This is the 6th part of our series, Who Is Jesus? If you missed Parts 1-5, please click here.
In the 35th chapter of the Book of Genesis, we come across an interesting information: “And God in a distinctly visible manifestation appeared to Jacob again…” (Genesis 35:9). It means that wasn’t the first time Jacob was seeing a manifestation of God. God had appeared to him before. Indeed, three chapters earlier, we see Jacob returning from exile, and a Man from nowhere wrestled with him till daybreak. When Jacob asked for the Man’s identity, the Man demanded why. He didn’t disclose his identity. Of that encounter Jacob spoke as follows: “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!” (Genesis 32:24-30).
Centuries down history God would echo a similar sentiment when he told Moses: “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.” Moses had requested to see His “glory.” (Exodus 33:20). The best view God could muster for Moses was his “back” when his glory passed by. (Exodus 33:21-23). That narrative gives us insight into the deconstructive physiological capabilities of God’s Spirit. But the fact remains that Moses saw God’s “back”, so how come he lived? He saw God as it were.
The clue to resolving the issue lay in the story of Aaron and Mariam pulling ranks in private against Moses. “Is it only through Moses that God speaks,” they asked rhetorically. “Doesn’t he also speak through us?” God replied them that with other prophets, He makes himself known in visions and dreams. But with Moses He speaks directly, “face to face.” Moses “beholds the form of the Lord,” God said. (Numbers 12:1-8). We can therefore deduce that the “back” of God Moses saw was “a form of the Lord.” It’s why he lived.
Millennia down history mankind will behold a “form of the Lord” in Jesus. And so we learn from scriptures that there is an anthropomorphic manifestation of God – God appearing in human form. It’s why God can have a face, have hands, have a back, carry a staff, walk, wrestle with a man. But there’s also his anthropopathism – his emotional dimension: his anger, love and compassion. He manifested anthropomorphically to express intimacy in one-on-one encounters. But he manifested in elemental form, like the fire on Mount Sinai, to project dread and power. The “form of the Lord” thus became a device used by God to prevent human fatality upon encounter with God. Thus were Samson’s parents saved from death. The Lord had manifested to them as an angel – a “form”.
Apostle John corroborated the fact that no man can see God in 1 John 4:12: “No man has at any time seen God.” But he went on to reveal the identity of the personage in the Godhead who has been manifesting “forms” to mankind. “No man has ever seen God,” he wrote, “but the one and only Son, who is himself God…has made him known.” (John1:18). And the Son declares, “Whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me” (John 12:45). Jesus is the manifestation of God. It is thus God the Son, Jesus, who manifested to Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Gideon, the Manoahs.
It is God the Son “we have seen with our own eyes” and “have touched with our own hands.” (1John 1:1). God the Son is He who “already existed with the Father and Who actually was made visible to us” (1 John 1:2). He was the Word who “became flesh” and “dwelt amongst us.” (John 1:14). God said Moses beheld a FORM of the Lord. Like John, Paul independently confirms who this Lord is, using the exact term. “Who (Jesus), although being essentially one with God and IN THE FORM OF GOD did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained but stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity, so as to assume the guise of a servant, in that he became like men and was born a human being.” (Philippians 2:6). And so we see God the Father and God the Son. Two distinct entities but in essence one. In Psalm 45:6-7, God the Father spoke to God the Son: “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore, God your God, has set you above your companions.”
This conversation between God the Father and God the Son has been used as justification for biniterianism. Binitarianism is a theology of God “in two persons” – the Father and the Son, rather than God in three persons. Contrast with Unitarianism (Islam); Triniterianism (Christianity). But then we come across 1 John 5:7 (AMP) which says: “So there are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” This passage is however disputed not being found in any Greek manuscript before the 14th century.
But then again we come across the words of Jesus himself: “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven… But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you’re repudiating the very One who forgives” (Mark 3:28-30). Jesus thus presents the Spirit as a personage. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter – Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby – that he may remain with you forever – the Spirit of Truth… (He) will be in you.” (John 14: 15-17).
Some opine that this passage is a prophecy about a latter day Prophet. This is curious considering that these same scholars do not accept the Gospel of John. Jesus said, this Helper will live in us. A human cannot live in humans so the passage is not about a person. But if these scholars insist on the words of John as the basis of the belief the passage is about a Prophet, then they must accept the opening of the same Book of John from which the prophecy came from. And the opening passage of the Book of John declares Jesus as God and Creator of the universe. (John 1:1-3). They cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. It’s either Jesus is God or that passage does not refer to a human.
Again, we see the trinitarian expression of God at the baptism of Jesus. Jesus is in the water, the Spirit descends from heaven as a dove, and the Father declares from heaven. (Matthew 3:16-17). And we see the Spirit resort to the same device used by Jesus – the Spirit descended “in bodily FORM like a dove.” In Acts 5:3-4, Peter remonstrated Ananias for deceiving the Holy Spirit saying he lied to God, proving the Spirit is God. The Spirit was involved in creation, brooding (thinking) in Genesis. (Genesis1:2). Indeed the word “God” in the passage, “In the beginning, God created…” refers to God in the plural – Elohim. In the creation of man, we see plurality again: God said, “Let US make man in our image…” (Genesis 1:26). All these passages lead us to the inescapable conclusion that God is a trinitarian concept.
But how do we reconcile trinity with Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord”? Islam construes this oneness in quantitative terms (Tawhid) but Christianity construes it conceptually (Trinity) – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit are One, not one. Trinity is conceptual oneness, in much the same way a husband and wife are said to be conceptually one, not numerically one.
Here’s an illustrative visualization of the Trinity: Imagine a man standing in the midst of an octagonal room. (This is called a thought experiment in Physics. Einstein used it to explain his difficult theories). The room is a higher dimension. It has two glass windows, man sized. The man is thus reflected in the two large windows. To a third party observer it would seem there are three people: two at the edges of the room, one in the midst of the room. The angulation of the room ensures that the third party sees three profiles: frontal, side and quarter. This further convinces the observer he’s looking at three different people in the room.
Now imagine that the glass windows are dimensions of governmental administration and the reflections are personages. In one view, you have a Revealer of Truth – the Holy Spirit. He reflects God’s core – the energy and power. “You will receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you,” Jesus said. The Holy Spirit is associated with power. In the 2nd view, we see the Savior of Mankind – the Son. He is the spitting image and literal reflection of the Father. And of course there’s God the Father right in the midst of the room. He’s the Source.
Now imagine that each Personage can generate independent history in time dimension. The Son of course has significant historic record because he manifested in, and interacted with the time dimension. But the Father has no history because he’s in the timeless dimension. His mentions in history are through the Son.
If all this sounds bizarre, it’s because you’ve not pondered the material in the Book of Revelation. Higher dimensional realities always seem bizarre. It’s why the Book of Revelation seems so bizarre. We’re in a lower dimension. We have the perception limitations of creatures in a lower dimension. How can the Creator of higher dimensions be a simplistic lower dimension concept? Trinity is higher dimensional concept.
We conclude the series next week. If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org