[ Author: Rich Christian ]
Easing the tension?
A video has surfaced recently that has caused quite a stir in the Ex-Jehovah’s Witness community. (Here’s another one that I’ve seen too.) While these aren’t original ideas, to the uninitiated they seem revolutionary. The basic premise—though eisegeted and proof texted horribly—is that the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh, is Satan! Yes, you heard that right, Satan. There have been some great rebuttals to this idea, including an excellent round-table discussion 1 on it, which is where I get some of my information for this article.
This theory is an attempt to ease the tension between the evil Old Testament God, and the loving one of the New Testament. This tension, a compartmentalization “remedy”, doesn’t help the cause however. For some of the skeptics who already have a disdain for the Bible, taking this approach falls right into their hands. Once the Old Testament has been stripped naked, the target then becomes the New Testament.
We’ve seen this approach before, in antiquity. Some of you will undoubtedly recognize this repacked theology, that reeks of Marcionism but on steroids. Marcion was a second century Gnostic heretic, who was dealt with thoroughly by early Christians such as Irenaeus.
“The basis of Marcionite theology was that there were two cosmic gods. A vain and angry creator god who demanded and ruthlessly exacted justice had created the material world of which man, body and soul, was a part—a striking departure from the usual Gnostic thesis that only man’s body is part of creation, that his soul is a spark from the true but unknown superior God, and that the world creator is a demonic power.” 2
Marcion was also known to have a butchered Bible, tailoring it to his liking. Only the most fringe of scholars would defend Marcion, but lo and behold, he has an ally in the infamous Jason BeDuhn. 3 Some of you may recognize BeDuhn as the seemingly lone scholar who defends the accuracy of the New World Translation with his book Truth in Translation, but I digress. Irenaeus writes:
“Besides this, he [Marcion] mutilates the Gospel which is according to Luke, removing all that is written respecting the generation of the Lord, and setting aside a great deal of the teaching of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as most clearly confessing that the Maker of this universe is His Father. He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it. In like manner, too, he dismembered the Epistles of Paul, removing all that is said by the apostle respecting that God who made the world, to the effect that He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also those passages from the prophetical writings which the apostle quotes, in order to teach us that they announced beforehand the coming of the Lord.” 4
Despite these shenanigans from Marcion, not even he equated Yahweh with Satan. Apparently, the creators of these videos have no problem with this, nor do they seem to mind that their views have the heritage of early church heresy–which resurfaced in the 7th and 8th centuries and is trying to make a comeback today.
One of the claims was made that Jesus cursed no one and killed no one. Well, that isn’t exactly true. We see in Matthew Jesus cursing a fig tree:
(NIV) Matthew 21:18-19, Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
At face value, it seems like Jesus just wasn’t a fan of fig trees, either that or he was trying to make an illustration. Many students of the Bible understand that the fig tree symbolizes Israel. This fig tree, Israel, “had leaves but no fruit, Israel had a temple, but no spiritual life. Its gleaming buildings teemed with robbery, hypocrisy, and dead ceremony.” 5 Consequently, Jesus did more than curse a person, but rather an entire nation for their disobedience to God!
While is true that Jesus never killed anyone, it shan’t be ignored that he is the one who the Father has entrusted for all judgment. (John 5:22, Acts 10:42, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:11-12) Those who have rejected Christ, will be thrown into the lake of fire. It should be noted too, that Jesus is the one who sits on the white horse (Revelation 19) and will take care of business 6 when he returns. Isn’t Jesus supposed to be the embodiment of love? Yes. He’s also the judge upholding justice.
There’s nothing to hide
It has been asked if it has ever been explained why the divine name (YHWH, most likely pronounced Yahweh), also known as the tetragrammaton, 7 has been substituted with “LORD” in the various biblical manuscripts. This substitution, in the mind of some, is that it’s an obfuscation of truth, that the Jewish scribes and Christians alike have hidden from the masses for millennia; an effort to hide who Yahweh really is, i.e. Satan.
The truth is however, that pious Jews substituted the divine name (with adonay in Hebrew and LORD in English) out of respect for God, being overly cautious not to take His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). Similarly, the early Christians had their own nomina sacra 8 of names and titles that they would abbreviate, writing only the first and last letter of the word. For example: God, (Gk. theos) becomes “ts” with a line over it. Some people today, still render God as G-d. There’s no conspiracy here, just a matter of people being cautious.
Here’s another issue that has been raised which seems to be an aha! moment for such folks but should be a mea culpa instead. Jeremiah 8:8 and the so called lying pen 9 has been cited as evidence for the textual corruption of scripture–advancing the idea that the scribes have corrupted the manuscripts. Keil and Delitzch had this to say about the passage:
“The words are not to be limited in their reference to the efforts of the false prophets, who spread their delusive prophecies by means of writings: they refer equally to the work of the priests, whose duty it was to train the people in the law, and who, by false teaching as to its demands, led the people astray, seduced them from the way of truth, and deceived them as to the future. The labours both of the false prophets and of the wicked priests consisted not merely in authorship, in composing and circulating writings, but to a very great extent in the oral teaching of the people, partly by prophetic announcements, partly by instruction in the law; only in so far as it was necessary was it their duty to set down in writing and circulate their prophecies and interpretations of the law. But this work by word and writing was founded on the existing written law, the Torah of Moses; just as the true prophets sought to influence the people chiefly by preaching the law to them, by examining their deeds and habits by the rule of the divine will as revealed in the Torah, and by applying to their times the law’s promises and threatenings. For this work with the law, and application of it to life, Jer. uses the expression “style of the Shoferim,” because the interpretation of the law, if it was to have valid authority as the rule of life, must be fixed by writing. Yet he did not in this speak only of authors, composers, but meant such as busied themselves about the book of the law, made it the object of their study. But inasmuch as such persons, by false interpretation and application, perverted the truth of the law into a lie, he calls their work the work of the lying style (pen).” 10 (emphasis added)
This is what Jesus was speaking of in the Gospels also, when he told the Pharisees and scribes: “thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that” (NASB, Mark 7:13). He was chastising the scribes for making vain traditions and causing unwarranted burdens on the people.
Also cited, in support for this idea of “corrupted scripture”, was 2 Timothy 2:15—dividing the word of truth—and “testing the spirits” in 1 John 4:1. The former is dealing with hermeneutical issues rather than isolating the text from itself. The latter addresses wolves in sheep’s clothing, warnings to the flock.
Neither passages (Jer. 8:8; 2 Tim 2:15) warrant one in treating the biblical texts with contempt but on the contrary, it’s the very scriptures themselves that are used as the measuring stick for truth! Jesus understood this (Jesus rebuts Satan by citing scripture in Matthew 4:4 Cf. Deuteronomy 8:3, thus showing his confidence in it), so did the Bereans 11 as did other biblical figures.
Archaeological evidence has proven to be an ally to scholars around the globe (the Dead Sea Scrolls being among this evidence). One of the foremost textual criticism experts, Daniel Wallace, has stated that only a ¼ of a percent (yes, less than 1 percent) of the variants of all the biblical manuscripts, are viable and meaningful. 12 The level of attestation for scripture, is in a class of its own in the textual criticism world.
Interrogating from the wrong perspective
Several of the accounts of the Old Testament have put God on trial. The rape, murder, slavery, genocide etc., have all been used to convict God as:
“jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” 13
In my experience, I’ve often seen such vitriol seemingly being fueled by rage over research. That’s not to say that I haven’t seen people carefully peruse such issues, but it does seem to be the exception.
There’s several aspects to consider but I will be far from exhaustive here, there’s just too much ground to cover (each deserves its own article). When looking at the various events of the Old Testament, again, one must consider the cultural context, the context of the events themselves, among other things. The New Testament explains that the OT is only a shadow of things to come, i.e. a new covenant.
The plan of salvation of Genesis (3:15), also known as the protoevangelium, was fulfilled with the incarnation of Christ. For this fulfillment to actualize, the seed of the woman had to have a lineage for it to happen; maintaining a people who were seeking after God. This was further advanced to (and through) Abraham and his descendants.
With that, there was an extremely high standard to preserve this. Also, in this equation—until the ultimate price for sin was paid at Calvary—mankind was under wrath, with grace coming only after the resurrection of Christ. This included the need for all the various sacrifices that were the shadow of the final and eternal sacrifice of Jesus. This is the backdrop that one needs to understand when considering said events.
Dr. Paul Copan, author of the book, Is God A Moral Monster?, has gone great lengths to explain some of what’s going on in the Old Testament — such as the Canaanite Wars — with this so-called malevolent bully. 14 Clay Jones, a professor at Biola, takes a similar position. In somewhat of a different approach, from men like Dr. Michael Heiser, he states that the Nephilm (no mere men) are at play in several of these ancient accounts. 15 Buuuuut, to those who have a hankerin’ to throw stones, none of these positions will be sufficient.
Reading between the lines
Here’s an interesting passage, that at face value, appears to show that YHWH is a deceiver:
(KJV) Ezekiel 14:9, And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
Robert Hawker writes:
“There is somewhat most awful in what the Lord here saith of deceiving the Prophet. The sense seems to be this. When men heap to themselves teachers having itching ears, and turn away from the truth, and are turned unto fables, the Lord gives them up to strong delusions to believe a lie. Awful judgment! 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Job 12:16. But I beg the Reader, when he hath paid due attention to this part of the subject, not to overlook, but earnestly keep in view, the Lord’s design in all this, and the over-ruling power of God to make good spring out of evil, for Israel’s sake his glory. That the house of Israel go not anymore astray, but remember their covenant relations to God; that they may be my people, and I their God, with the Lord God: Oh! how blessed, how infinitely blessed and gracious this is!” 16 (emphasis added)
This is a case of God allowing a wayward one (a prophet steeped in error), to pursue his own devices and deceit. In Romans we see this also, where God hands those over (who don’t want to speak/follow the truth) to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28).
One of the equivocations made about YHWH being Satan is the comparison of 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1. Samuel states that YHWH is the instigator of David while Chronicles states it was Satan.
A) 2 SAMUEL 24:1 (YHWH)
(KJV) And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
B) 1 CHRONICLES 21:1 (Satan)
(KJV) And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
The JFB commentary on this passage of Chronicles writes:
“Satan stood up against Israel—God, by withdrawing His grace at this time from David (see on 2Sa 24:1), permitted the tempter to prevail over him. As the result of this successful temptation was the entail of a heavy calamity as a punishment from God upon the people, it might be said that “Satan stood up against Israel.” 17 (emphasis added)
Similarly, Barnes had this to say of the Samuel passage:
“The difficulty in reconciling the statement here, “Satan provoked David,” etc. with that of Samuel, “the Lord moved David,” etc. 2Sa 24:1 is not serious. All temptation is permitted by God. When evil spirits tempt us, they do so by permission (Job 1:12; Job 2:6; Luke 22:31 etc.). If Satan therefore provoked David to number the people, God allowed him. And what God allows, He may be said to do.” 18 (emphasis added)
A case of double vision?
Redundancy alert: a crucial point in understanding these ancient biblical texts, one needs see what the ancients had to say. Often, 21st Century Westerners try to anachronistically shoehorn their ideas into this millennia’s old Near Eastern text. If context matters at all, then understanding the milieu of those whom these writings were for, is important. What did the ancient Jews believe about their deity YHWH? Jewish scholar, Alan F. Segal, in his book, The Two Powers in Heaven writes:
“Because of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we can be certain that some apocalyptic and sectarian movements within Judaism developed dualistic tendencies which could have been described as “two powers in heaven” by the rabbis.” 19
We must understand a couple of things concerning this “Two Powers” view, a view which proposes the idea that there’s somehow more than one YHWH being mentioned in the scriptures: First, this was a minority view of the ancient Jews. Second, it wasn’t viewed as the same dualism of Marcionsim, i. e. two different gods, but the same God with an agent (or hypostasis) with him, which is “binitarianism” or “ditheism” rather than “dualism.” 20 Admittedly, this view was hotly debated amongst various sects of the Jews but nevertheless, some ancient Jews taught it. 21 (It should be noted that this view was labeled a heresy in the second century CE, in an apparent response to Christianity.)
The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BCE – c. 50 CE) wrestled with this Two Powers concept in several of his writings. He had much to say about another YHWH entity, called logos:
“Here it gives the title of “God” to His chief Word [logos], not from any superstitious nicety in applying names, but with one aim before him, to use words to express facts. Thus in another place, when he had inquired whether He that is has any proper name, he came to know full well that He has no proper name, [Ex. 6:3]and that whatever name anyone may use for Him he will use by license of language; for it is not the nature of Him that is to be spoken of, but simply to be. Testimony to this is afforded also by the divine response made to Moses’ question whether He has a name, even “I am He that is (Ex. 3:14).” It is given in order that, since there are not in God things which man can comprehend, man may recognize His substance. To the souls indeed which are incorporeal and are occupied in His worship it is likely that He should reveal himself as He is, conversing with them as friend with friends; but to souls which are still in a body, giving Himself the likeness of angels, not altering His own nature, for He is unchangeable, but conveying to those which receive the impression of His presence a semblance in a different form, such that they take the image to be not a copy, but that original form itself.” 22 (emphasis added)
We’ve seen this language before, John didn’t write his gospel and his logos idea (John 1:1) in fiat.
Who is the Most High?
It’s been said that the Most High (Hb. Elyon) is a different God than YHWH. Here’s the passage used in support of this idea:
(ESV) Deuteronomy 32:8-9, When the Most High [Elyon] gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s [YHWH] portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. (emphasis added)
This passage is eisegeted as the Most High giving Jacob (Israel) to YHWH. (Read Heiser’s work on the Divine Council) If you read this chapter alone, you could perhaps make a case for this, but a weak one. One only needs to do just a bit of digging—with the help of the King James Concordance—and you’ll see that the Most High is indeed YHWH. This is only one of several passages 23 that confirms this:
(KJV) Psalms 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah [YHWH], art the most high [Elyon] over all the earth.
No man can see God and live
You see these theophanies—visible manifestations of God—throughout the Old Testament, there’s quite a few. 24 One of my favorite ones is from Judges 13. (Read the entire chapter for context)
In verse 3, the angel of the Lord (AOL hereafter) appears to Manoah’s wife, revealing that she will conceive a son (which we know, is Samson). After this pronouncement, she comes home and informs Manoah about this encounter, and tells him about this “man of God”, and that his “appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God”.
Manoah prays to see this man of God again and the AOL does appear to his wife a second time. She goes and gets Manoah and they have a conversation with the AOL. Manoah, his wife and the AOL get into conversation about the pronouncement of her having a son and in the process, Manoah suggests making a goat sacrifice for the AOL. Manoah, asks him his name, but the AOL wouldn’t give it to him.
Manoah proceeded to set up the goat offering, and upon that, the AOL went into the flames of the sacrifice. Manoah and his wife proceeded to fall prostrate to the ground. At this point, Manoah starts to freak out and says: “We shall surely die, because we have seen God”, but his wife comforts him, reminding him that God wouldn’t kill him, because he accepted the sacrifice after all!
Clearly, they both believed they saw God—while understanding that no one can see God and live (Exodus 33:20) but during this entire time, all they saw was the AOL! It must be noted, that we see several occurrences in the Bible, where people see angels, but they don’t have this reaction—that they were going to die upon seeing them. Yes, great respect has been shown for them, but this reaction is over the top. To Manoah and his wife, this was more than a mere angel.
Paying a little visit
Genesis 18 has another compelling theophany account, that carries over into chapter 19, which reveals more interesting information. In verse 1 of this passage, it states that the LORD (YHWH) appears to Abraham and Sarah. In this account, you have 3 men being visibly seen (not a mere vision), but these were no ordinary men.
Abraham, in his hospitality offers to wash the feet of his guests (v4) and tells Sarah to make a meal for them (v6). In the process of her preparing the food, YHWH informs Abraham that Sarah will have a son in a year (v13). She overhears the conversation and scoffs at this, being that she’s an old woman past the age of child bearing.
Afterwards, Abraham sees the men off as they head to Sodom (v16), then he has another conversation about the fate of Sodom. Pay careful attention here: as the men left, YHWH stayed behind with Abraham standing before him! (v22) After an exchange with Abraham, on how many righteous it would take to spare Sodom, YHWH also departs from Abraham.
Raining down fire from heaven
In chapter 19, it gets particularly interesting; in verse 1 the two angels arrived in Sodom in the evening. Wait, what?! What two angels? The text assumes that you already know who they are and where they came from.
John Gill explains:
“in the Talmud they are said to be Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael [angels]: the truth of the matter seems to be this, that one of them was the son of God in an human form, that chiefly conversed with Abraham, and who rained from heaven brimstone on Sodom; and the other two were angels in the like form that accompanied him in that expedition”. 25 (emphasis added)
While the Talmud says these men are angels (specifically archangels) Gill identifies two as angels and one as the pre-incarnate son of God (Jesus) himself! He also understands that YHWH rains down fire from YHWH. Yes, there’s two YHWH figures in this passage. 26 This is one of several passages that have made the rabbis squirm.
This view is not unique to Gill, it’s actually a very ancient view. Ignatius (35 CE – 107 CE), a disciple of the disciple John (yeah, that John) first taught it:
“For Moses, the faithful servant of God, when he said, “The Lord thy God is one Lord,” and thus proclaimed that there was only one God, did yet forthwith confess also our Lord [Jesus] when he said, “The Lord [Jesus] rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord.” And again [he confessed a second time our Lord Jesus by saying], “And God said, Let Us make man after our image: and so God made man, after the image of God made He him.” 27
Ancient Christian apologist, Justin Martyr (100 CE – 165 CE) had this understanding too. In his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, he wrote:
“And after another pause I added: “And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came [to Sodom], the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord who received commission from the Lord who [remains] in the heavens, i.e., the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrah the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: `The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven……..Then Trypho said when I was silent, “That Scripture compels us to admit this, is manifest; but there is a matter about which we are deservedly at a loss-namely, about what was said to the effect that [the Lord] ate what was prepared and placed before him by Abraham; and you would admit this.
I answered, “It is written that they ate; and if we believe that it is said the three ate, and not the two alone-who were really angels, and are nourished in the heavens, as is evident to us, even though they are not nourished by food similar to that which mortals use-(for, concerning the sustenance of manna which supported your fathers in the desert, Scripture speaks thus, that they ate angels’ food): [if we believe that three ate], then I would say that the Scripture which affirms they ate bears the same meaning as when we would say about fire that it has devoured all things; yet it is not certainly understood that they ate, masticating with teeth and jaws. So that not even here should we be at a loss about anything, if we are acquainted even slightly with figurative modes of expression, and able to rise above them.
And Trypho said, “It is possible that [the question] about the mode of eating may be thus explained: [the mode, that is to say, ] in which it is written, they took and ate what had been prepared by Abraham: so that you may now proceed to explain to us how this God who appeared to Abraham, and is minister to God the Maker of all things, being born of the Virgin, became man, of like passions with all, as you said previously.” 28 (emphasis added)
A mistaken identity?
When speaking of theophanies, it’s important to examine what (or who) the Angel of the Lord (YHWH) or “AOL” is. In several occurrences—including the one I listed in Judges—the AOL often speaks in the first person, as YHWH himself. Some of the Jews understood that the AOL is a special messenger, not an ordinary one. As I mentioned earlier, Philo associated the AOL with logos. 29
Some of the Early Christian Fathers took the position that the AOL, was the pre-incarnate Christ. (Some clarification is needed before I continue: the word angel—Hebrew malakh, Greek aggelos—simply means messenger. It’s applied to both humans and to divine created beings. For instance, John the Baptist is called an aggelos in Mark 1:2. We see such applications in the Septuagint [LXX] also. The LXX is the Greek translation of the Old Testament.) Irenaeus, identified the person speaking to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:8), as Jesus:
“Wherefore, as I have already stated, no other is named as God, or is called Lord, except Him who is God and Lord of all, who also said to Moses, “I AM That I AM. And thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: He who is, hath sent me unto you; “and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who makes those that believe in His name the sons of God. And again, when the Son speaks to Moses, He says, “I am come down to deliver this people.” 30 (emphasis added)
Justin Martyr also taught that it was Jesus in the burning bush:
“Now the Word of God is His Son, as we have before said. And He is called Angel and Apostle; for He declares whatever we ought to know, and is sent forth to declare whatever is revealed; as our Lord Himself says, “He that heareth Me, heareth Him that sent Me.” From the writings of Moses also this will be manifest; for thus it is written in them, “And the Angel of God spoke to Moses, in a flame of fire out of the bush, and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of thy fathers… But so much is written for the sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race, He endured all the sufferings which the devils instigated the senseless Jews to inflict upon Him; who, though they have it expressly affirmed in the writings of Moses, “And the angel of God spoke to Moses in a flame of fire in a bush, and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” yet maintain that He who said this was the Father and Creator of the universe.” 31 (emphasis added)
Interestingly, some translations of Jude 1:5, translate Lord as Jesus, affirming that it was Jesus that led the nation of Israel out of Egypt! In 2 Kings, we see the AOL struck down 185,000 Assyrians:
(NASB) 2 Kings 19:35, Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD (YHWH) went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.
If you believe that the AOL is Jesus, the above verse may challenge what you think about the character of Jesus—loving yes, but he also executes judgment, as aforementioned (see Revelation 19:21 again). I’m only scratching the surface here about theophanies and the Angel of the Lord. 32
Who’s coming on the clouds?
It’s no secret (shhhhh, maybe it is!) that several New Testament writings took passages of the Old Testament, which were applied to YHWH, and they applied them to Jesus. Even Jesus himself did this! To lay some quick ground work, let’s look at the cloud rider for a moment:
- (ESV) Psalms 68:32-34, O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah, to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. (emphasis added)
- (Darby) Psalms 104:1-3, Bless Jehovah, O my soul! Jehovah my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with majesty and splendour; Covering thyself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent-curtain;—Who layeth the beams of his upper chambers in the waters, who maketh clouds his chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the wind. (emphasis added)
- (Darby) Isaiah 19:1, The burden of Egypt. Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt are moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt melteth in the midst of it. (emphasis added)
As you can see, it is YHWH, the God of Israel who is the cloud rider. Here’s where it starts to get interesting. We see in Daniel 7:9-13, two figures being mentioned here—with the son of man being the cloud rider:
(KJV) Daniel 7:9-14, I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. 33
This is the very passage that Jesus quoted before Caiaphas, the high priest:
(NASB) Matthew 26: 62-66, The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, AND COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN. Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
Their reaction to his claim of being the one who is to come on the clouds, tells the story here—the tearing of the robe and the charges of blasphemy was no small reaction. Yes, Jesus’ audience knew exactly what he was stating when he claimed to be the one who will be coming on the clouds: Cloud Rider > YHWH > Jesus. 34
To state the obvious
In closing, I sincerely want to apologize for making you read such a long article! I’ve tried to be as concise as possible, but there was a lot to cover. If you’ve read all this, you have cookies and cake coming your way. (They’re gluten free, I promise.) The most obvious passage that clearly shows YHWH isn’t Satan, is this passage in Job:
(WEB) Job 1:6, Now it happened on the day when God’s sons came to present themselves before Yahweh, that Satan also came among them. (emphasis added)
Yup, that’s right, Satan was among the sons of God when they presented themselves to YHWH, thus ruling out that Satan is YHWH!
1. Healing X Outreach Radio, BTR Panel Discussion: Marcionisn & the ex-JW Community (Marcion’s Yahweh), 1/6/2018
2. Marcionite, Encyclopædia Britannica
3. Jason BeDuhn, The Myth of Marcion as Redactor: The Evidence of “Marcion’s” Gospel Against an Assumed Marcionite Redaction, Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi, 29/1 (2012) PDF (Accessed 1/9/18)
4. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter XXVII
5. Daniel Doriani, Cursing of the Fig Tree
https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/cursing-fig-tree/ (Accessed 1/9/2018)
6. (NLT) Revelation 19:21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.
7. What is YHWH? What is the tetragrammaton?
https://www.gotquestions.org/YHWH-tetragrammaton.html (Accessed 1/3/18)
8. Luke Wayne, Nomina Sacra and early Christian manuscripts
https://carm.org/nomina-sacra (Accessed 1/17/18)
9. (NIV) Jeremiah 8:8 “How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely”?
10. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (2002). Commentary on the Old Testament. (Vol. 7, Page 645). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)
11. (KJV) Acts 17:11 The people there were more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica. They listened to the message with great eagerness, and every day they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true.
12. Daniel Wallace, The Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism
https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/the-basics-of-new-testament-textual-criticism/id446655163?mt=10 (Accessed 1/3/18)
13. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, pg. 51, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2006.
15. Dr. Heiser’s book: The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible is a fascinating read. As a Hebrew scholar (he can do translation work in 11 languages by the way), he digs deep into the text, showing information that has been missed by several scholars. His view on the Nephilim, is the one that the second temple period Jews (500 BCE-70 CE) believe. Unfortunately, it’s not often taught in seminaries today. His Reversing Hermon book deals with this material too.
16. Robert Hawker Commentary (Accessed on eSword)
17. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary (Accessed on eSword)
18. Barnes Commentary (Accessed on eSword)
19. Alan F. Segal, The Two Powers in Heaven, pg. 20, Brill Academic Publishers, Inc., Boston, 2002
20. Ibid, pg. 140
21. Ibid, pg. 13, Segel records this of ancient Rabbi Ishmael ben Yosi, who records two YHWH figures in Genesis: Gen. 19:24, was discussed in Sepphoris around 200 C.E. by Ishmael ben Yosi. The verse reads “The Lord rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord from heaven.” The difficulty here is a possible inference of two gods from the otherwise superfluous “from the Lord.”
22. Som. i, 230-33. (Loth V, p. 419-21, tr. Colson and Whitaker).
23. Here’s some more passages to consider: 2 Sam. 22:14, Psalms 7:17, Psalms 21:7, Psalms 47:2, Psalms 92:1, and Psalms 97:9.
24. Some of my source material is from this lecture of Dr. Michael Heiser: Two Powers of the Godhead – May 4, 2013
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CUkhWBKCuXc (Accessed 1/20/18)
25. John Gill Commentary (Accessed on eSword)
26. (Darby) Genesis 19:23-24 The sun rose upon the earth when Lot came to Zoar. And Jehovah rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven.
27. The Epistle of Ignatius to the Antiochians, Chapter II
28. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapters LVI and LVII
29. I touched on Philo and John (John 1:1) speaking about the word (logos), here’s an interesting cross reference to the word, in Jeremiah 1:4 “the word of the Lord came to me”. The LXX uses λογος (word) here. Keep in mind that YHWH is speaking the entire time! In verse 9, the LORD (YHWH) reached out his hand and touched the mouth of Jeremiah. This is the God of Israel (YHWH), coming in the embodiment of the word/logos! In 1 Samuel 3:21, we see another occurrence of YHWH appearing in the form of the word/logos.
30. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter VI
31. Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter LXIII
32. If you’d like to dig further, here’s a great article on the subject: Theophanies in the Old Testament
https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/incarnation/theophanies-in-the-old-testament/ (Accessed 1/21/18)
33. Scofield recognizes this scene, stating that it’s identical to Revelation: Scofield Commentary – This scene is identical with that of (Revelation 5:6-10). There the ascription of praise of the “kings and priests” (Compare (Daniel 7:18); (Daniel 7:18) ends with the words, “and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 6. opens the “vexing” of (Psalms 2:5) introductory to setting the king on Zion; (Psalms 2:6); (Revelation 20:4). (Accessed on eSword)
34. There’s several Old Testament passages which are of YHWH, and the New Testament writers applied them to Jesus. Here’s one such example:
A. (Darby) Isaiah 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make straight in the desert a highway for our God!
B. (Darby) Mark 1:3 Voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of [the] Lord, make his paths straight.