Jehovah or Jesus?

What a startling question that is! What inferences and conclusions are bound up in it whichever way it may be answered. I well remember the day it was answered affirmatively for me, now many years ago.

It was the summertime and I was seated on a bench in a public park reading a book, entitled The Divine Unity of Scripture, by Adolph Saphir. He was a converted Israelite, a Christian Jew, the scholarly and devoted pastor of a noted Presbyterian church in London. It was a single sentence in the book, just a few words, that so electrified me as to cause me to leap from the bench, or if that is too strong a description, certainly I stood up on my feet at least. I did this for very joy; it seemed as if my soul could not contain itself.

The four words were simply these: “Jesus Christ is Jehovah.” Of course, the context which led up to them had much to do with their effect upon me, but the effect was as I have said.

I had been brought up on the Old Testament. I knew and loved and trusted the God of the Old Testament before I came to know in the same way the God of the New Testament. Jehovah I knew as my Creator, Protector, Provider, but I had not known Him as my Redeemer. But when on that memorable day I discovered that He who had created, protected and provided for me in all the years was the God incarnate who shed His blood on Calvary to take away my guilt, the joy within me knew no bounds. How I wish these words of mine might bring that joy to someone else, and how I pray that God may put His own life into them to that blessed end!

THE PROOF OF IT

Some may ask how we know this to be true? How do we go about to prove that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New, that Jehovah and Jesus are one? Of course the Bible is our only guide, and the Bible does not state it as a fact in so many words; but there are certain declarations and facts recorded in the Bible which, when gathered together and seen in their relationship to one another, prove it beyond a doubt.

1. In the Old Testament Jehovah sometimes appears to men in human form. He does so several times, but a single illustration will suffice. He appeared to Abraham when he dwelt on the plains of Mamre, as recorded in Genesis 18.

The story is that three men appeared to him, seemingly travellers on their journey, whom, with oriental courtesy, he invited to be his guests. One of the three, distinguished in some way from the others, Abraham addressed as “Lord.” The word is printed in small letters indicating that in the Hebrew it simply meant “Master,” or in the English “Sir.” The meal was made ready, and as they ate, Abraham stood by them under a tree to render personal service.

“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah, thy wife?” (:9.) That is, one of the three said this, and as the sequel shows, it was the one he had called “Sir.” And Abraham said, “Behold, in the tent.” Sarah was in the tent.

“And he said,” that is, the same one of the three said, “I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life (when the season cometh round); and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.” (:10.)

But who was this “man” who said that? How could any man, or angel or archangel for that matter, possess the prescience (knowledge of things before they exist or happen), the power and the authority to make a declaration of such a nature?

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? (:11-12.) Her laugh is one of mingled doubt and delight.

“And Jehovah said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for Jehovah? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (:13-14.)

Behold, the secret discloses! The mystery solves! Jehovah Himself is the speaker, not a man and not an angel. The King James Version in the verse last quoted is again using the word “LORD,” but this time in capitals, indicating that in the Hebrew it is the name Jehovah, and so the American Revised translates it (otherwise known as the American Standard Version 1901.)

Keep this clear therefore, the “man” whom Abraham at the first distinguished by the title “Sir”; the one who said, “Where is Sarah thy wife?”; who said, “I will certainly return unto thee, and lo, Sarah shall have a son” – this ONE is none other than Jehovah in human form.

And the conclusion of the story further evidences it, for when “Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid,” (:15), then “He said, Nay, but thou didst laugh.”

As a man He did not see her laugh, for see was behind Him in the tent, and He did not hear her laugh, for she laughed “within herself.” But Jehovah is omniscient as well as omnipresent and omnipotent, and He knew she laughed though she was neither seen nor heard.

2. The Jehovah of the Old Testament who on occasion appeared to men in human form, is sometimes called “The Angel of Jehovah”; not an angel, but The angel, and “angel” means one who is sent.

As in the other case a single illustration may suffice. This time it is in the history of Jacob, grandson of Abraham, and recorded in Genesis 31.

Jacob is in Padan-aram serving his father-in-law Laban. At first he had been much prospered there, but jealousy had caused the countenance of Laban to be “not toward him as before,” (:2), and “Jehovah said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” (:3). Mark it, Jehovah said this to him.

Jacob now calls his wives, Rachel and Leah, to meet him in the field where he is tending his flocks, in order to talk the matter over with them. He says, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.” (:5).

These were the circumstances under which the God of his fathers had been with him as he relates them to his wives: – “The angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And He said, . . . I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowest a vow unto Me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” (:11-13).

The angel of God said, “I AM God, the God of Bethel”; and the word “angel” means one who is sent, mark that.

Rachel and Leah are impressed and dutifully say, “Now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.” (:16).

“Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; and he carried away all his cattle, and his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padan-aram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.” (:17-18).

3. The Old Testament sometimes speaks of one person of the Godhead as sending another person of the Godhead, This is done, for example, in Zechariah 2:10-11.

As you are aware, Zechariah is a post-captivity prophet, anointed of God to encourage the Jews to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem after their return from Babylon. And one strong element or feature of that encouragement is the bright hope he holds out to them of the latter days, the end of this present dispensation and the opening of the next, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall appear to set up His kingdom in Israel on the earth.

Referring to this blessed time he says, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah. And many nations shall be joined to Jehovah in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts have sent me unto thee.”

One Person of the Godhead in this case, who is called Jehovah, says to Israel, “Lo, I come; I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me, Jehovah, unto thee.” This is the angel of Jehovah; that is, the ONE SENT.

It is now needful to recall that the first Person of the Godhead, God the Father, never has been sent and never has been seen. “Thou canst not see my face and live,” He says to Moses. He is invisible, light unapproachable, is Paul’s testimony to Timothy. But God the Son has been sent and has been seen. Five times in His controversy with the Jews, as recorded in John 8, He avers (affirms with confidence) that His Father hath sent Him. In His commission to His disciples (John 20:21) He uses the words, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” “No man hath seen God at any time,” says the apostle John, “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” – showed forth (1:18). “Who is the image of the invisible God,” Paul writes to the Colossians (1:5). “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father,” Christ Himself said to Philip (John 14:9).

It is thus becoming more and more clear, is it not, that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New?

4. Finally, the New Testament positively identifies the two divine Persons as one God. See for example, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, where he is warning the church against the peril of backsliding, the peril of compromising with the pagan world about them, and where he is using the history of Israel in the wilderness as a case in point.

All the Israelites alike had the same miraculous benefits conferred upon them in the wilderness. They were all without exception under the protection and guidance of the cloud and all passed through the sea. “They did all eat the same spiritual meat (manna); and they did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

Now what is the meaning of those words, “that Rock was Christ”? Turn back to the 78th Psalm for (the) answer. That is an historical psalm in which the inspired writer is recording Jehovah’s dealings with Israel in the wilderness:

“They remembered that God was their Rock” means that they came to see that all their dependence must be placed upon Him who did such wonders for them, who was their Shelter, their Foundation, their Source of supply, their Unchangeable Friend. But according to Paul, reference here is to the second Person of the Godhead. It was Christ who was the true source of all their protection and their nourishment. He, “the Angel of the Covenant,” went with them whithersoever they went as their Guide and Support. Christ was their “Rock.” See further proof of this in such passages as John 4:10, 14; 7:37-38.

SUMMARY

Let us now rehearse and gather into one view what we have thus learned about this wonderful truth:

1. In the Old Testament Jehovah sometimes appears to men in human form.

2. The Jehovah who thus appears is sometimes called “the Angel of Jehovah,” and “angel” means one sent.

3. The Old Testament sometimes speaks of one Person of the Godhead as sending another Person of the Godhead.

4. Jehovah as God the Father was never sent or never seen, while God the Son has been both sent and seen.

5. The New Testament clearly identifies Jehovah and Jesus Christ.

What a demonstration this is of the great truth that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New, that Jehovah and Jesus are one and the same Person!

And how entirely it agrees with all that is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments concerning the offices of the Three Persons in the scheme of redemption – the Father choosing us, the Son redeeming us, and the Holy Spirit sanctifying and teaching us (see 1 Peter 1:2)!

Now return with me to Adolph Saphir’s book and let me quote a few more sentences from it, not literally, but in substance:

Only Jehovah can say, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25). But Jesus said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). Jesus is Jehovah!

Only Jehovah can say, “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). But in the last day, that great day of the feast, “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37). Jesus is the fountain of living waters, Jesus is Jehovah!

Only Jehovah can say, “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isaiah 62:5). But Jesus said, “I am the bridegroom; how can the children of the bridechamber fast while I am with them” (Mark 2:19). Jesus is Jehovah!

Only Jehovah can say, “Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:27). Jesus is Jehovah!

Who sent the Old Testament prophets? Jehovah sent them, and if the prophets were not sent by Jehovah he was a false prophet (Jeremiah 14:14-16). But on the day when Jesus left Jerusalem desolate, He said, “Behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify . . . that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:34-35). Jesus is Jehovah!

To sum up, Jesus said to His unbelieving countrymen, “If ye had believed Moses, ye would believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). And after His resurrection, to His faithful followers He said, “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). Jesus is the sum and substance of what Moses wrote; He is the foundation of the whole history of the Old Testament, and He is the central object of all its prophecy.

When I hear men say that they believe the New Testament but reject the Old Testament, I pity them, for they know not what they say. No man can know the New Testament who does not believe the Old Testament. And when I hear men say that they love Jesus but hate Jehovah, I not only pity them but tremble for them, for no man can love Jesus who does not love Jehovah. Jehovah is Jesus, and Jesus is Jehovah. And it is He whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and on whose head are many crowns. It is He who treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

It may be added here, and I’m sure Professor Gray would have believed this, that the “I AM” in John 8:58 is the same “I AM” in Exodus 3:14. Therefore Jesus must be Jehovah! GJH.

by James M. Gray, DD., LL.D.,President of Moody Bible Institute, “Steps on the Ladder of Faith” 1931.

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