UNDERSTANDING THE TRI-UNITY OF THE GODHEAD.
Part 1 – The Plurality of the Godhead.
Introduction: The following two statements are unacceptable to modern day Judaism -
1. The belief in God as a Triune Being.
2. The belief that Messiah (Moshiach or the Christ) is the Son of God.
Please note that I state ‘modern’ as the Hebrew Scriptures clearly state the opposite and indeed within ancient Jewish writings we can clearly see and understand that God has a Son and that God has revealed Himself as a Triune Being.
We can therefore read that the author of the Zohar sensed a plurality in the Tetragrammaton and wrote:
‘Come and see the mystery of the word YHVH; there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one and that head is three exalted.
The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from Him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.’
(Zohar Vol III, 288; Vol II ,43, Hebrew editions.)
Of much greater importance though is the very teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The word for ‘God’ most commonly used in the Hebrew Scriptures in Elohim. This is a plural noun having the masculine plural ending of ‘im.’ Although this plural name for God does not immediately prove a tri-unity of the Godhead it is the first name we have for God in the Scriptures in Genesis 1:1 and is no coincidence in us discovering how God is revealing Himself as a Triune Being.
This plural use in words describing God is seen in a number of ways:
PLURAL DESCRIPTIONS -
Joshua 24:19. Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins.’
The Hebrew word for holy is a plural adjective and so it literally reads ‘holy Gods’
Psalm 149:2. ‘Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.’
In the Hebrew again the word for ‘maker’ is in the plural form and so it literally reads ‘Let Israel be glad in his Makers.’ (In English the word ‘maker’ is a noun but in Hebrew it is an adjective).
Isaiah 54:5. ‘For thy Maker is thy husband; Yehovah of Hosts is His Name and the Holy One of Israel is thy Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall He be called.’
In this third example the words for ‘maker’ and ‘husband’ are both plural adjectives within the Hebrew text and so literally they read ‘For thy Makers is thy Husbands;’
A picture is now beginning to build and we can progress further:
PLURAL NOUN -
Another word for God within the Hebrew scriptures is Adonai meaning Lord. It is used daily in the great declaration that the Lord our God is one as recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4.
It is the word ‘one’ that we need to focus on just as to date we have focused on the Hebrew language.
There are two Hebrew words for one – yachid and echad. Both are nouns.
The first is a noun denoting singleness or an absolute one the second ‘echad’ denotes plurality or a compound one.
So when God gave Moses the Shema, “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” We have to note and admit that God used echad!. We see then that the Lord was pronouncing Himself to be a unity. If the Lord wanted to show His absolute oneness of being He would have surely used the word ‘yachid’ so that confusion was avoided. We should therefore note that Maimonides noted the difference between the two words and then used the strength of meaning within the word yachid instead of echad (as per the Scriptures) in his 13 Articles of Faith. This then was a deliberate and intentional act of human choice.
THE WORD ELOHIM APPLIED TO TWO DIVINE PERSONALITIES -
Our case for believing what we believe is further strengthened by the situation where in the Hebrew scriptures the term Elohim is used of two personalities in the same verse.
Psalm 45:6-7. Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; A sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee with the oil of joy above Thy fellows.
So we note that the first Elohim is being addressed as God. Next, the second Elohim is the God of the first Elohim. There is therefore two distinct personalities being referred to here. It is plain English to understand that Elohim’s Elohim has set Elohim above His companions and so this cannot be David or anyone else as they are referred to as God.
THE NAME YHVH APPLIED TO TWO DIVINE PERSONALITIES -
Not only then is the name Elohim applied to two personalities in the same verse we can now see that the very name of God, Yehovah (YHVH) is also applied to two personalities.
Genesis 19:24. Then Yehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yehovah out of Heaven.
Let us note and see quite clearly that the first YHVH is on the earth and is raining fire down from a second YHVH who is in Heaven. It therefore cannot be argued against that what we can all read and note, is that two distinct persons are called YHVH within the same verse. (We previously read in Genesis chapter 18 verse 1 that the Lord appeared to Abraham and that of the three men standing before Abraham, verse 2, Abraham addresses one of them as his Lord, verse 3.).
This is why we read of Yeshua (Jesus) within the Brit Hadassah (New Testament) referring to Himself as the Son of God, the Anointed One or Messiah and that He and His Father are one (see John 10:30). It is also recorded that other people recognised this not least of all Paul, who to begin with was clearly against the risen Saviour. He went about with letters from the High Priest wanting to arrest all Jewish believers in Yeshua until the day he met his Lord on the way to Damascus. Later he would write of how Yeshua is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt within Him (Colossians 2:9). No gentile had persuaded him, the Lord had!