Of course, we’re all familiar with the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. They are the three, who make up the One. They are the perfect unity, shown throughout the New Testament as God, the Father; Jesus, the Son; and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the entire Trinity was present (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23). However, what about the book that existed before Jesus was born? Did the Trinity exist then, or did St. Paul simply make it all up, as some would insist?
As I’ve shown in the previous post, God is most certainly a plurality. However, the question has been posed before: If God isn’t just One, then how do we know He isn’t more than three? To answer the question of how many, we need to go back to the Tanakh (Old Testament) and examine Scripture, because the Trinity appears as a distinct grouping; primarily as the Lord God, The Angel of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord. While there are other names applied to them, these are the most frequently used, so we will address them as such.
The Lord God
We all know Him. He is our Heavenly Father, the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega. He is known as the infinite, uncreated God, who made this entire physical existence. He wrote all of the natural laws that govern this universe, along with the Law (Torah) He gave to Moses at Mt. Sinai. Without Him, none of us would exist. There is no question about that, He is God and Father to His people. (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; Malachi 2:10)
The Angel of the Lord
Scripture shows that The Angel of the Lord is pre-incarnation Jesus. He was present when Abraham was ordered to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and even told him to put his knife away. There are some things that should be noted, though.
First, you will note that His name is “The Angel of the Lord”, not an angel of the Lord. What does that mean? It means that it is a title, rather than an assignment. In Hebrew, the word for “angel” translates as “messenger”, so an angel of the Lord is simply a messenger of the Lord. Meanwhile, The Angel of the Lord isn’t just a mere assignment, it’s a title, a position. Given Jesus’ mission on this earth a little over 2,000 years ago, it’s more than fitting that He would be The Angel of the Lord. To be sure, there will be those who will argue that The Angel of the Lord isn’t divine. However, of the 23 passages which feature Him, 11 show Him to be of divine origin. Of those 11, three show that He isn’t just divine, but distinct from the Lord God. How can that be, if God isn’t a plurality?
In Genesis 16:9-14, we see The Angel of the Lord visiting with Hagar as she hides in the desert from Sarai and tells her to return to her mistress, “9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” 13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees (Italics added for emphasis); for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.”
Did you note what she called The Angel of the Lord? She called Him God, just as plain as day. Yet, the Scripture is clear, in that she most certainly wasn’t speaking to the Lord God. If God is Unitarian in nature, then wouldn’t this be blasphemy? Of course, this is not the only example. In Genesis, Chapter 2, we have the story of Abraham being ordered to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a test of his faith. This is established in verses 1-2,
“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Please note, God is the one who ordered Abraham, not anyone else)
Later in the passage, we have a conversation between Abraham and The Angel of the Lord,
“11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 2:11-12)
Who was it that he didn’t withhold his son from? God is the one who ordered him to sacrifice Isaac, The Angel of the Lord is the one who ordered him to stay his hand. Who is The Angel of the Lord to countermand the Lord God, if they aren’t in fact equals? It’s clear that The Angel of the Lord is both divine and separate from God. The Angel of the Lord plainly says that Abraham didn’t withhold Isaac from Him. Stay with me, there is one more example to show.
Now, we have Exodus 3, the famous story of the burning bush. In this story, as you may all recall, the conversation was between God and Moses, as Moses is ordered to return to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from the bondage of slavery. Exodus 3:1-6,
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”
Note that the first to appear to Moses is The Angel of the Lord. Yet, it states that he spoke to the Lord. I highly doubt that The Angel of the Lord was there simply to announce the arrival of the Lord. If He had been, it would have said so. Instead, we have an imperceptible transition from The Angel of the Lord to the Lord which suggests that they are one in the same.
The Holy Spirit
In Genesis 1:2, we see reference to the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit of the Lord God. Throughout the Old Testament, He is alternately known as the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord and even the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:11-12). In all of the Scriptural references pointing to the Spirit of God, He’s entering into a human and filling them with wisdom, knowledge and also making them prophesy in the name of the Lord. He is the breath of God. When God speaks, He’s what moves.
As a member of the Godhead, He is co-equal with the Father and the Son. Yet, He and the Son both submit to the Father’s authority. All three are eternal, yet, the Son and Holy Spirit emanate from the Father. They exist coequally, as a divine community. He does occupy one special place, among all the other members of the Godhead. Denial of Him, or blaspheming Him, is known as the unforgivable sin. (Matthew 12:31-33)
Based upon the Scriptural evidence at hand, it’s clear that God is a plurality, that He is a community made up of three: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All three have existed eternally, without beginning or end, are coequal, and that the Son and the Spirit both submit to the Father’s authority. With that being said, it is now time to move into the next topic: the Messiah.