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Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?


Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (Part 1)

Judaism and Christianity Introduction and History
History of Judaism Continued
Scholarly Objections and Historicity of Daniel (P. 1)
Historicity of Daniel (P. 2) & Judeo-Christian Syncretism
A Few Words on Gnosticism
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 1)
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 2) & Prophecy in Judaism
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 1)
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 2)
List of Messianic Qualifications & the Resurrection of Jesus (P. 1)
The Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)
Study Conclusions and Overall Comparisons

Additional Material
The Sufferings of Eyewitnesses
Comparison of Mystical Religions to Judeo-Christianity
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 1)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 2)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 3)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 4)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 5)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 6)

Introduction
| Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3




In the modern understanding Judaism and Christianity are separated by five fundamental Christian beliefs or claims:

1. The Christian Messianic claim concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
2. The concept that the sacrificial death of a man provides atonement between God and man for mans sins.
3. The Christian Trinitarian view of God.
4. The Christian view that the Mosaic Covenant and Law have been replaced by another covenant.
5. Christianity's embrace and incorporation of pagan religious beliefs, practices, and customs.

Item number 5 overlaps items 3 and 4 to some extent. This is because the trinitarian view of God is seen by some critics as a Christian incorporation of pagan polytheism and because the Christian incorporation of pagan culture and religion is to some extent predicated upon the Christian concept that the Mosaic Covenant and Law have been replaced and are no longer binding.

Judaism claims that each of these five attributes of Christianity is prohibited by the teaching of God preserved in their sacred scriptures. However, if it can be shown that Jewish scripture does not provide any objection to these Christian claims or if it can be shown that Christianity does not make these claims then the differences between Judaism and Christianity will be resolved and it would be inappropriate to view them as two separate religions.

In the coming pages of this study we intend to demonstrate just this: when we follow the teachings of the Jewish sacred texts no legitimate prohibition of the fundamental Christian claims can be found and that, therefore, any distinction between Judaism and Christianity cannot be legitimately maintained. In the wake of this study of these texts we will see that there truly is a Judeo-Christian tradition that can only be separated when both Jews and Christians are out of alignment with the teachings they respectively claim are from God.

After we bridge this separation we will demonstrate the historicity of Judeo-Christianity and then investigate the evidence offered by Judeo-Christianity that compels us to accept the accuracy of its claims.

For the time being we will skip item number 1 from our list above and first deal with issues number 2-5. Going out of order we will begin with item number 5 first because it is the easiest and quickest to deal with.

(NOTE: At this point in our study of religion we have only two contending candidates. All the other candidates have been rejected. For this reason our analysis of whether or not Christianity is the legitimate view within Judaism will largely take the form of a debate between those who uphold the authority of the Old Testament scriptures as the Word of God. In doing so, an investigation of the Old Testament will be performed which may seem to assume that the sacred texts are valid. In reality, all we are assuming is that since both Jews and Christians accepted the Old Testament as true it is a valid means of determining which view, Christian or Jewish, is in line with the teachings of the scripture.)


5. Christianity's embrace and incorporation of pagan religious beliefs and practices.

Regarding the specific Jewish criticism that Christian incorporation of pagan religious beliefs and practices is inappropriate, we completely agree. In the rest of our website we have posted several article series that directly address this very question. We feel that it is wholly improper and a violation of God's will for Christians to in any way incorporate pagan religious beliefs and practices into the Christian faith. We feel that those who do incorporate paganism into Christian belief or practice violated the commands of the Jewish founders of Christianity, namely Jesus Christ and his apostles including Paul. And we feel that it is incumbent upon all Christians to discard such practices, root out such infiltration, and return to early Christian faith, which at its inception was inherently a Jewish faith, emerging from Jewish traditions and, which, at least for the first several decades, was held by a predominantly Jewish community.

(For more on these issue you can visit the following articles from our website which all address these matters: "the Foundation of Our Theology" in the Our Approach section, "Celebrating Christmas" in the A Brief Word On section, as well as "the Church Ethic" section and its subheading concerning "Liberty in Christ.")

If Christians cease to embrace and incorporate pagan religious beliefs and practices and instead reject and remove these contaminations, then issue number five between Judaism and Christianity will be resolved. And for those Christians who have removed the pagan influence on their beliefs and practices, this criticism is already dissolved. We unequivocally advocate this very thing. Having then dismissed this fifth item, we will continue in reverse order from our list above and turn now to item number 4.


4. The Christian view that the Mosaic Covenant and Law have been replaced by another covenant.

In order to resolve this fourth issue we can simply turn to the Old Testament scriptures to see whether or not the Jewish sacred text prohibit or anticipate the idea of the Mosaic Covenant being replaced by another or new covenant. This task is easily addressed.

We begin in Deuteronomy 18, where Moses foretold that God would send another Prophet like himself unto the Jews from among them.

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

As we examine this prophecy from Moses the first thing to address is what Moses means when he describes this Prophet as being "like himself." In what way does Moses mean that the Prophet will be like himself? The answer to this question deals with the role that Moses fulfilled for the Jews. Of course, there are many roles that Moses fulfilled for the Jewish people, but this passage in Deuteronomy clearly has three roles in mind.

In verse 15 Moses informs us that this man will function be a prophet just as he himself has been. But in what manner did Moses function as a Prophet? He delivered God's Word to the people of Israel and mediated the covenant between God and Israel, which God established with them as they left Egypt. The initiation of this covenant is referred to in verse 16 of Deuteronomy 18, where Moses speaks of the day of the assembly in Horeb when the people requested not to hear God's voice again or see His fire for they were afraid they would die. This event is described for us in detail in Exodus 19 through 24. Below are the relevant parts of these passages, without the details of the legal requirements of the covenant.

Exodus 19:1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. 10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. 14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. 16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. 23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them. 25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

Exodus 24:1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. 2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. 3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. 8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. 9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. 12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. 14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. 15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

In the above excerpts from Exodus we can see in greater detail the events to which Moses is referring in Deuteronomy 18. In Exodus 19-24 God makes a covenant with the people of Israel. Moses acted as the mediator between God and Israel. God would give Moses His Word and then Moses would tell it to the people. Then Moses would return to God and give Israel's response to Him.

When the covenant was established a sacrifice was made and the blood was sprinkled on the altar and upon the people. The elders of the people went with Moses up on the mount and with Moses they saw God and then ate and drank.

Also, we see that when God came upon the mountain to speak to Israel, the people responded in the manner described by Moses in Deuteronomy 18. For comparison here are the passages side by side.

Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.

We can see from Moses words in Deuteronomy 18 that God's sending a prophet "like Moses" to the people of Israel is a response to their desire to hear God's words through Moses and not from God himself. For they were afraid to death of God's voice and the fire that accompanied His presence on the mountain. In Deuteronomy 18:17, Moses informs us that God agreed with the people's sentiments and that instead of speaking to them directly, God would send another Prophet who, like Moses, would intercede for them and mediate between them and God, a man like themselves so that they would not be afraid. And just as was the case with Moses, God will put His words in the mouth of the Prophet who will in turn speak those words to the people. Likewise, just as there were penalties upon the people for disobedience to God's covenant spoken to them through Moses, God would require it of them that did not hearken to the words of this Prophet.

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

From Deuteronomy 18 we can see that the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures anticipate the coming of another Prophet who will function in the same capacity as Moses did. Since Deuteronomy 18 refers directly to the events of Exodus 19-24 as the reason for God's sending this Prophet to Israel it is apparent that this Prophet will fulfill the roles Moses fulfilled during those events.

Those roles principally include:

1. Mediating a covenant between God and His people Israel.
2. Receiving God's words from God and passing them on to God's people Israel.

However we also know that Moses functioned as:

3. A lawgiver. (Deuteronomy 31:9, 24, Deuteronomy 33:4, Joshua 1:7, Joshua 8:31, 32, Joshua 22:5, Joshua 23:6, 1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 14:6, 2 Kings 21:8, etc.)
4. An intercessor for Israel with God. (Exodus 32:7-14)
5. A deliverer (by whose hand God brought the people out of slavery in Egypt).

And the cutting of the covenant between Israel and God involved:

6. A sacrifice. (Exodus 24:4-6)
7. The leaders of God's people being taken up on the Mount and seeing God's glory. (Exodus 24:9-10)

8. A meal. (Exodus 24:11)

Additionally, we see that the prophet Jeremiah confirms that God will make a new covenant with the people of Israel, which will not be like the covenant He made with them after He brought them out of Egypt. Instead unlike the first covenant when God wrote His law on tablets of stone and had Moses give these to the people (Exodus 24:12, Exodus 31:18, Exodus 32:15, 16, 19, Exodus 34:1, 4, 28, 29, Deuteronomy 4:13, Deuteronomy 5:22, Deuteronomy 9:9- 11, 15, 17, Deuteronomy 10:1-5), God intended to write this new covenant upon the hearts of the people.

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

All of these passages from the Jewish scripture clearly demonstrate that Judaism expected and required God to send another man to His people Israel. This man would:

1. Be an Israelite.
2. Mediate a new covenant between God and His people.
3. Give God's new law, commands, and covenant to the people, which would be written in their hearts as opposed to tablets of stone.
4. Intercede between God and His people.

Because of these passages it is not possible to object to the Christian teaching based upon the notion that the Law of Moses is replaced. Instead from its onset, Judaism has expected this very event to occur - the coming of a new law from another Prophet who would function similar to Moses.

The question for non-Christian Jews is where is this prophet? Who fulfilled this prophecy given by Moses himself? Where is this new covenant? When was it initiated? Who initiated it? What does it entail?

(NOTE: The term non-Christian is used to qualify Jews so as to not discriminate or overlook the large number of ancient Jews and Jews from all ages since the time of Christ into modern times who do accept Jesus as the Messiah.)

Modern Judaism does not have a response to these issues, which are so plainly stated in their own scripture. On the other hand, Christians claim that Jesus fits this role. But we will examine whether or not Jesus does fulfill this role when we look at item number 1 from our list above (1. The Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.)

For now, we have shown that Judaism itself requires that the covenant and law given through Moses will be and must be replaced. Therefore, we have also shown that non-Christian Jews cannot object to the Christian view that the Law of Moses/the Mosaic Covenant has been replaced. Having removed item number 4 from being a legitimate issue separating Judaism and Christianity we will now move on to item number 3 from our list above.


3. The Christian Trinitarian view of God.

As we examine item number 3 it is first important to establish the orthodox Christian Trinitarian view of God. This view of God as Trinity of Three Distinct Persons has been confused in the modern world.

Put simply, the orthodox Christian view of God as a Trinity is this:

The one true God eternally exists as three distinct Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three are co-equal, co-eternal, and one in essence.

1. Co-equal - meaning equal in status
2. Co-eternal - meaning they are all eternal, none of them has a beginning, each has existed eternally
3. One in essence - meaning only one God, not three separate gods

We could also state it this way in more plain language:

There is only one true God. This one true God is three, distinct Persons, who though distinct from one another, are at the same time unified with respect to the divine being so that all three together are the one true God (not three separate Gods). The one true God has always and eternally been three, distinct Persons. And each of these three, distinct Persons who together are the one true God, have always existed, have always been the one true God, and are each equal in status to one another.

More time could be spent demonstrating that this view is the orthodox and authentic Christian view from the earliest times. But the specifically purpose of this article is to demonstrate Christianity is the correct view of God. Only after establishing Christianity as the correct view of God can we debate which Christian view is legitimately founded on the Christian scriptures and the earliest Christian traditions. With that said we will only spend a brief paragraph clarifying what the Christian view of the Trinity is not, since this concept is often misunderstood by non-Christians.

The Christian view of God as a Trinity does NOT hold that there are three cooperating, but separate Gods (which would be polytheism). Nor does it hold that God is only one Person who represents Himself in three distinct and separate roles (often called Modalism). Likewise, orthodox (or authentic) Christianity does not hold that any of the three Persons who together are one God were created or became God after previously either not existing or not being God. All of these views of God (polytheism, Modalism) developed well after the origin of the Christian teaching and are considered to be heretical by orthodox Christianity.

(For more on the origin of authentic and orthodox Christian teaching please see our article entitled "The Foundation of Our Theology" and the other articles in our In Depth Studies section. For more information on the orthodox Christian view of God and the Trinity please see the following web articles www.geocities.com/lasttrumpet_2000/theo/OPhist01.html and http://www.geocities.com/lasttrumpet_2000/theo/1jn57.html.)

The orthodox view of the Trinitarian nature of God is articulated in passages in the New Testament. However, the Trinitarian nature of God is also clearly established from the oldest parts of the Old Testament, that is the Jewish scripture. Here's how.

At the time of Moses (beginning in the Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible) we see that God greatly expounds and explains Himself to the people of Israel. As we saw from Exodus 19-24 God's intention with Israel was to enact a covenant with them in which He would be their God and they would be His people. In so doing, God through Moses speaks to the Israelites about who He is and what His will was. So, beginning at the time of Moses, we can see that man is given a much more detailed understanding of God.

(NOTE: Biblically speaking, God began to initiate this plan to create a people for Himself with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob over 400 years before He lead Israel out of Egypt under Moses.)

Once we understand that God's revelation of Himself to mankind was progressive we realize that we must not only ask how God revealed Himself to the people of Israel through Moses, but we must also ask how God had revealed Himself prior to Moses. Only after we know how God had revealed Himself prior to Moses will we have the necessary context to understand how God made Himself known to Israel at the time of Moses.

In the Book of Genesis, (the first book of the Bible), God through Moses provides an account of the persons and events, which lived and occurred before Israel was in Egypt. Through this record from Genesis we can see how God revealed Himself prior to Moses and compare it with God's revelation of Himself at the time of Moses, which is recorded in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. We begin at the beginning in Genesis 1:1.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God (430) created the heaven and the earth.

Key to our understanding of God and how He reveals Himself to mankind is the Hebrew word forms that are used in the Old Testament scripture. In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew word for God is the word "Elohim," which is Strong's number 430. What is so interesting about the word "Elohim" is that it is the plural form of the word "Elowahh" (Strong's No. 433). Elowahh is the singular form of the Hebrew word meaning "God." As such Elohim, the plural form of the same word, literally means "Gods."

(NOTE: Strong's number is a reference number from Strong's concordance, which lists the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible, where they are used, and what they mean.)

So right off the bat, in Genesis 1:1 we see that God has Moses record that "In the beginning Gods created..." And so right away we see God describe himself through Moses not in a singular manner, but as a plurality.

This word Elohim, which literally translates to "Gods" is used over 100 times in the first 22 chapters of Genesis alone. It is used over 100 times in the first 32 chapters of Exodus. In fact, in the entire Old Testament we see that God refers to Himself using the word Elohim ("Gods") 2,346 times. Elohim's usage on many occassions when a singular form of the word for God was available makes it difficult to dismiss the Christian view of God as a plurality of Persons.

God continues to refer to Himself in this manner throughout Genesis 1, where the word Elohim ("Gods") is used 40 times in 31 verses. In fact, the word Elohim is the only word for God that is used in the entire chapter of Genesis 1. It occurs in all but 5 verses and in several verses it is used more than one time. Yet we consistently see God referring to himself in this manner, and at the same time indicating both a plurality and a singularity. For example Genesis 1:26-27.

Genesis 1:26 And God (430) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...27 So God (430) created man in his own image, in the image of God (430) created he him; male and female created he them.

In both verses 26 and 27 we see that the Hebrew word Elohim is used to refer to God. In verse 26 we see "Gods" speaking among themselves. This points to a plurality of persons. For how could or why would one person appropriately speak to themself in the plural form? At the very least this is confusing behavior by God if He intends us to understand Him not as a plurality of persons, but as a single person. At the most this more striking evidence that God intends for us to understand Him as a plurality of persons.

And in verse 27 we see the singular pronoun "he" is employed in conjunction with the word "Gods" to speak of God's unity as a single being. Genesis 1:26-27 literally reads "And Gods said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...So Gods created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them."

This simultaneous description of God in the Jewish scripture as a plurality of Persons within a single Being (God) is not only difficult to explain apart from the Christian Trinitarian view, but makes it impossible to object to the Christian view of God as a plurality of Persons in one God.

But more evidence can be offered. Consider Genesis 19:24.

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD (3068) rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD (3068) out of heaven;

Here in Genesis 19 we see the Hebrew word Jehovah (Strong's No. 3068) is used to describe God. The word Jehovah is the proper name of God revealed by God to Moses in Exodus 6:2. (We will cover God's revelation of His name Jehovah to Moses in Exodus 6:2 momentarily.) This series of events, which concludes with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah here in Genesis 19:24 actually begins in Genesis 18 with the Lord (Jehovah) visiting Abraham accompanied by two men (angels).

Genesis 18:1 And the LORD (3068) appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

We know that it is the Lord (Jehovah) and two men (angels) and that not all three men are Jehovah from verse 22 of the same chapter where we see the two men are said to depart for Sodom and Gomorrah while the Lord (Jehovah) remains with Abraham. And verses 1 of the following chapter where they are called angels using the Hebrew word for angel ("mal'ak, Strong's No. 4397). In verse 2 they are called lords using the Hebrew word for "lord" (adown, Strong's No. 113) and NOT the word Jehovah (3068) (which was translated in the Old Testament as "Lord" out of reverence for the name of God).

Genesis 18:20 And the LORD (3068) said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD (3068).

Genesis 19:1 And there came two angels (4397) to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2 And he said, Behold now, my lords (113), turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

However, from verse 21 we see that the Lord's (Jehovah's) intention is to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if He should destroy it (see verses 23-32).

Genesis 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

And in verse 33 we see that the Lord (Jehovah) does depart for Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 18:33 And the LORD (3068) went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

After the two angels, which had accompanied the Lord (Jehovah), escort Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah, we see that the city is destroyed as Genesis 19:24 describes.

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD (3068) rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD (3068) out of heaven;

What is significant about Genesis 19:24 is the dual occurrence of the word Jehovah (3068). The beginning of verse 24 clearly places Jehovah on earth (after visiting with Abraham) raining down brimstone and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from heaven. However, the end of the verse also states that Jehovah is in heaven. So we have two persons both depicted as Jehovah in Genesis 19:24. One Person who is Jehovah is on earth and another Person who is also Jehovah is in heaven. One Person who is Jehovah is on earth raining down fire and brimstone from another Person who is also Jehovah and who in heaven. Genesis 19:24 is, in fact, depicting two Persons as one Jehovah.

Zechariah 3:2 is similar.

Zechariah 3:2 And the LORD (3068) said unto Satan, The LORD (3068) rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD (3068) that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

In Zechariah 3:2 we see Jehovah (3068) is speaking to Satan about Jehovah (3068). This verse literally reads, "Jehovah said unto Satan, 'Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan, even Jehovah that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee.'" Thus, one person who is Jehovah is speaking from a third person perspective about another person who is also Jehovah. This again depicts a plurality of persons that together are one Jehovah.

These verses present striking evidence of a plurality of persons within the Godhead from the Jewish scripture itself. And this then is how God had revealed himself prior to Moses - as a plurality of persons and yet a singular being.

This also explains why a group of Jews living in Judea in the first century AD would so easily accept Christian doctrine, which holds that God is a Triune Being. And not only did Jesus' Jewish disciples accept this plurality within the Godhead, but they were able to convert many thousands of their fellow Jews, who also seemingly did not have a problem with the Trinitarian view of God expressed in Christianity. And why didn't these early Jews have a problem with the Trinitarian view of God? Because Judaism itself already had a longstanding, inherent and developed plurality concept built into its understanding of the Godhead based upon repeated expressions from the very beginning of Jewish scripture.

The first time God reveals Himself by His name Jehovah (3068) is to Moses. This event is recorded for us in Exodus 6:2.

Exodus 6:2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD (3068): 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH (3068) was I not known to them.

Exodus 6:2 clearly states that prior to Moses, God had not revealed Himself by the name Jehovah (3068). According to God in Exodus 6:2, He had previously revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob only as God Almighty. So, when we see the name Jehovah (3068) used in the Bible prior to Moses we know that this is simply due to the fact that Moses was the one who wrote down the first five books of the Bible and not because God was known as Jehovah before He appeared to Moses in Exodus 6:2.

After revealing His name (Jehovah) to Moses, God has Moses reveal that name to the people of Israel. We see this event recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear O Israel, the Lord (3068) your God (430) is ONE (259) Lord (3068).

Ironically, this verse from Deuteronomy 6 is used as one of the chief scriptural objections against the Christian Trinitarian view of God. However, a closer look at the passage reveals that it does not in any way prohibit the Trinitarian view of God, but instead supports it. An examination of the language employed will explain why this is the case.

The word for God in Deuteronomy 6:4 is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 and in 2,346 places in the Old Testament, including over 100 times in the first 22 chapters of Genesis and over 100 times in the first 32 chapters of Exodus. It's Strong's concordance number should be familiar to us by now. The word is Elohim, the plural form of the Hebrew word for God.

So, in fact, Deuteronomy 6:4 literally translates to "Hear O Israel, Jehovah (3068) your Gods (430) is ONE Jehovah (3068). So, again we see God described in terms of a plurality and unity. (In fact, this same phrase "Jehovah (3068) Elohim (430)," which literally means Jehovah Gods appears 532 times in the Old Testament. Fifty-two of those 532 times occur in the first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.)

And we can see that this statement in Deuteronomy parallels Genesis 19:24, which we looked at earlier, where we saw two Persons (one on earth and one in heaven) both referred to as Jehovah. Likewise, Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that Jehovah, Israel's Elohim (Gods) is one (echad) Jehovah. By this we know that there is only one Jehovah and not several Jehovahs. And there is more than one Person who together are Jehovah, the single God.

So, we see that Deuteronomy 6:4 identifies the name Jehovah with each of the Persons of God. Therefore, Jehovah is not a reference to a particular Person of the Trinity, but is used of ALL Persons (Elohim) of the Trinity. An example of this is Genesis 3:22 where the phrase Jehovah Gods is used to describe the three Persons of the one God speaking to themselves (just as we saw them doing in Genesis 1:26).

Genesis 3:22 And the LORD (3068) God (430) said, Behold, the man is become as one (259) of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Further confirmation that God is one in being and yet three distinct Persons comes from the word "one" used in this verse, which is the Hebrew word "echad" (Strong's number 259). The definition for this word is below.

0259 dxa 'echad ekh-awd'
a numeral from 0258; TWOT-61; adj
AV-one 687
1) one (number)
1a) one (number)
1b) each, every
1c) a certain
1d) an (indefinite article)
1e) only, once, once for all
1f) one...another, the one...the other, one after another, one by one
1g) first
1h) eleven (in combination), eleventh (ordinal)

What is interesting to note about the use of "echad" is that it can be used to refer to a single entity comprised of more than one distinct components in order to convey the unity of those components, while at the same time not denying the presence or existence of more than one distinct component. For instance, it appears in Genesis 1:5.

Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first (259) day.

Though day and night are distinct from one another and cannot be confused, both are considered parts of a single day, in Genesis 1:5 the first (echad) day. We see this same meaning of echad employed in Genesis 1:5, 2:24, 11:6, 34:16, and 41:25-26.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one (259) flesh.

Genesis 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one (259), and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Genesis 34:16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one (259) people.

Genesis 41:25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one (259).

All of the above are instances of the Hebrew word "echad" being translated into the English word "one," and being used to refer to the unity of several distinct components as a single entity. If God had wanted us to understand that He was only one person instead of using the word "echad" He could have used the Hebrew word "yachiyd," (Strong's number 3173) meaning "only, only one, solitary, one, unique" along with the singular form of the word for "God" (Elowahh).

Since Deuteronomy does not use "yachiyd" or "Elowahh," (God) but instead uses "echad" and "Elohim" (Gods), we can only assume that God meant to uphold and not amend His previous revelation of Himself as three distinct Persons, yet one God.

Knowing from Exodus 6:2 that God did not reveal His name (Jehovah), we have to ask what is the purpose of Moses statement in Deuteronomy 6:4. Why would God direct Moses to inform Israel that Jehovah their Gods is one Jehovah? God through Moses seems to be clarifying something that needed to be articulated clearly, specifically that there is only one Jehovah. It begs the question, why would Israel need to be told that there is only one Jehovah?

The obvious answer is that God did not want His people whom He was making a covenant with to misunderstand Him and who He is. He wanted them to know that although Jehovah is their Elohim (Gods), there is only one Jehovah. The need to clarify this point is due to three facts that we have seen demonstrated in the prior revelation that was available to God's people prior to Moses.

First, God had revealed himself as Elohim, the Hebrew word for Gods (plural) on many, many occasions from the earliest of times. The people of Israel had also known of God speaking to himself as separate people speak to one another (Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:22). And third, the people of Israel had been told of how two Persons of the Godhead operated together from two different locations (Genesis 19:24). What God was clarifying was that though Jehovah is more than one Person, there is only one Jehovah.

If God had meant to correct the use of the word Elohim and be clear that Jehovah is only one Person Deuteronomy 6:4 would not have used the words Elohim or echad, but would have used Elowahh and yachiyd. Furthermore, we see that not only does God use the word Elohim here in Deuteronomy 6:4 and thus endorsing this method of referring to Himself, but this same plural word for God continues to be used after Dueteronomy 6:4 to refer to God. As we said earlier Elohim is used 2,346 times in the Old Testament. So Deuteronomy 6:4 cannot be used to object to the idea of that Jehovah is three Persons, as Christians, including Christian Jews, believe.

But to be sure, the Old Testament is clear that there is only one God and not three (or more) gods. For instance, God is referred to by the Hebrew word "el" (410), which means a singular God, 235 times in the OT. Forty-seven of those times occur in the first five books. This word "el" (410) is the shortened form of the Hebrew word "elowahh" (433), which is also a reference to a single God. Elowahh (433) occurs 52 times in the OT, the earliest 2 of which are in Deuteronomy 32, occurring after God reveals His name to Moses and after Moses declares to Israel that "Jehovah Elohim is one Jehovah" (Deuteronomy 6:4).

This continued reference to God in the Jewish scriptures, in a way that affirms both monotheism as well as a plurality within the Godhead, continues all the way through the later prophets of the Old Testament. The example from Malachi illustrates this point.

Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one (0259) father? hath not one (0259) God (0410) created us?

Here again we see an emphasis placed by Malachi on monotheism, when he states that there is "one father" and "one God." However, not only is Malachi using the Hebrew word "echad," but he is also using the plural Hebrew word for "Gods" (Elohim). So, we can see that the plurality within the Godhead is there right from the beginning of the Old Testament and it continues throughout the scriptures and understanding of Judaism right up until the time of Jesus Christ.

And not only that, but even the titles of the three Persons of God are known in the Jewish scriptures. As in Malachi 2:10 (above), we see God referred to as "father." Genesis 1:2, refers to the "Spirit of God" moving over the waters. And in such passages as Genesis 19:24, we see the concept of one Person within the Godhead acting as the messenger and agent of another Person of the Godhead who remains in heaven. Likewise, such passages as Genesis 15:1 and 4 associate the messenger/agent Person within the Godhead with the phrase "The Word of the Lord," just as the Apostle John indicates repeatedly in the opening chapter of his Gospel, John 1.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God...14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth...17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

And, as we have shown, all of these concepts are coupled with the repeated affirmation to the Jewish people in their own scriptures that God is a plurality of Persons. So, of course it is no big surprise why the Jews of the first century found it to be no big deal to accept Christian teaching, which professed that the Jewish God was one God yet three Persons: the Father, the Word (who became incarnate), and the Spirit. The reason that these concepts didn't pose a roadblock for first-century Jews was because these concepts were already at least partially understood by first-century Jews from the Old Testament.

From this examination of the Jewish scriptures we can see two things. First, God has repeatedly revealed Himself as a plurality of Persons, but one God. Second, that there is nothing in Deuteronomy 6:4 or anywhere else in the Old Testament, which in any way prohibits the Christian Trinitarian view of a plurality of three persons within the one true God. On the other hand, we have a great deal of clear evidence from the Jewish scriptures themselves that the one true God is, in fact, three, distinct Persons (and yet is one God and not three gods).

Having therefore, now dismissed item number 3 from our list above concerning the issues that separate Judaism and Christianity we will proceed with item number 2.

(Continued in next section.)


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