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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it
too much if we should reap material things from you?"
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Section 10, Chapter 9
More on the Names of God
In the Bible
Ironically, Jesus employed a form of argumentation (known in
Hebrew as kal v’chomer) that was common among the rabbis. In this
instance, the reasoning went something like this: (1) The priests and judges of
ancient Israel were known as "gods" (Heb., elohim) because they
ruled on God’s behalf; (2) These rulers were not accused of blasphemy for
being called "gods"; and (3) Upon what basis then would they condemn
the very Son of God, who came from the Father, for blasphemy, because He called
Himself "God"? In other words, He was saying, "No one objected
when they called the ancient rulers of Israel elohim because they spoke
and acted on God’s behalf. Yet, you want to stone the final King of the
Davidic dynasty, the Messiah of Israel, who speaks and acts on God’s behalf,
because He calls Himself God."
Does this mean that Jesus was backing down from His claim of
being God in the flesh? Was He saying that He was God only in a representative
or symbolic sense, like the Old Testament priests and judges? Not at all. He was
simply employing a form of argumentation familiar to the Pharisees to show that
there was no legal (or halakic) precedent for their condemnation of Him.
Our Lord’s Jewish audience that day obviously understood that He was not
relenting. It says they still wanted to take Him into custody, "But He
escaped out of their hand" (John 10:39). The fallacy of the Pharisees’
position was that it assumed Jesus was an ordinary man who mistakenly and
arrogantly claimed to be God. It did not allow for the possibility that He might
be exactly who He claimed to be.
It was perfectly acceptable for the judges to be called elohim,
because they were set apart to speak and to act on God’s behalf. Therefore, it
should have been no crime for the Messiah, who was the very Son of God, to claim
that He was "one" with the Father. Even today, the rabbis generally
assume that the notion of a divine Messiah is contrary to Jewish teaching.
However, ancient Jewish documents—including even the Babylonian Talmud—indicate
this may not have been entirely the case: Rabbi Hillel said: "There will be
no Messiah to Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of
Hezekiah". R. Joseph said:
"May the Lord forgive him for saying such a thing. When
did Hezekiah live? In the time of the first Temple. And the prophet Zechariah
prophesied in the second Temple. He said: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your king comes to you; he is just, and
having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an
ass (Zech 9:9)." [Source: Sanhedrin 99a]
In his explanation of the above Talmudic passage, Rashi
(1040-1105 A.D.), one of Judaism’s most influential medieval commentators,
says Rabbi Hillel (a fourth-century descendant of the rabbi who lived in the
time of Jesus) believed that King Hezekiah was the Messiah and that all the
prophecies about a Messianic king were fulfilled in him (Rashi to 98b
larcyl tyvm, @ya hyyd).
If the Messiah had already come, then, who was left to redeem
Israel from her Exile (that is, the Diaspora) and fulfill the restoration
promises given in God’s Word? According to Rashi, Rabbi Hillel believed the
Redemption of Israel would be wrought not by a mortal, non-divine messiah, but
by God. This is significant because it allows for the possibility that Israel’s
promised deliverer would not be a mere man like most of the rabbis say, but
would actually be God Himself!
Tractate Sanhedrin makes it clear that other rabbis,
including Rav Yosef, disagreed with Rabbi Hillel on this point. It was
not, by any stretch of the imagination, a majority opinion. Nonetheless, it
shows that at least one ancient Jewish sage interpreted the prophecies to mean
that "the redemption promised in the Torah will be wrought not by a human
messiah, but by God Himself" (Cheilek, Chapter 11, on Sanhedrin
The Prophet Isaiah took it one step further and explained
that Israel’s Redeemer would be both God and Man:
"For a child will be born to us, a son
will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name
will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty-El359,
Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His
government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to
establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and
forevermore. The zeal of Yehovah of hosts will accomplish this." (Is 9:6-7)
Isaiah 9:6 was not fulfilled in the days of King Hezekiah.
The "son" who was born during Hezekiah’s reign (Is 7:14-16) was
merely a symbolic forerunner (or type) of the future, Virgin-born Son of God
recorded in Matthew 1:23.427/4, 9
The prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 says very clearly that the Messiah’s
name shall be called, among others, El Gibbor,
r/BGI lae, "Mighty God".
No human being in Hezekiah’s time was known as "Mighty
God"! And certainly, Hezekiah did not (and will not) establish an
unending, worldwide government, as Isaiah prophesied. There can be only one
conclusion. In Isaiah’s prophecies, 9:6 refers to the Messiah’s first coming
and 9:7 to His Second Coming. At His first coming He would sacrifice Himself as
our High Priest and Savior of the world (Ps 22; Is 53). At His Second Coming He
will reign as King of kings over all the world (Is 11:1-16).
This promised Messiah would be both human and divine—human
because according to 7:14 He is born of a virgin, and divine because He is
called "the Mighty God" in 9:6. He would be a God-Man!427/9
NAMES FORMED USING
meaning the faithful God. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 7:9, "Know
therefore that Yehovah your Elohim, He is Elohim, the-faithful-El286,
who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with
those who love Him and keep His commandments." The context of this verse is
God telling Israel that He is going to bring them into the promised land flowing
with milk and honey and that He is going to give it to them for a possession.210/1
He tells them this because the seven nations they are going to come up against
(Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites)
are larger, wealthier and more powerful than they are (7:1).210/1, 3
The Children of Israel, on the other hand, are a wandering nation of farmers,
shepherds, and former bricklayers.
Since they are not trained warriors, they will have to depend on the Lord. So
He reminds them of their unique relationship to Him. He says, in Deuteronomy
7:6, "For you are a holy people to Yehovah your Elohim; Yehovah your Elohim
has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who
are on the face of the earth." After saying this, Israel might have become
big headed thinking they are special and unique, so the Lord goes on to explain
why he picked them: "Yehovah did not set His love on you nor choose you
because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest
of all peoples" (Deut 7:7).
Next, he gets to the real issue of why he delivered Israel out of Egypt:
"But because Yehovah loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your
forefathers, Yehovah brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the
house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deut 7:8).
Notice that the Lord gives two reasons for His deliverance of Israel—His love
and His promise. A New Testament counterpart to this verse is John 3:16. In
Salvation, first and foremost, God was motivated by His love for us. Then,
second, He fulfilled His promise to send the Messiah: Jesus Christ, so we could
be saved through Him.
In this sense, then, Israel’s Exodus from Egypt typifies our salvation
under the New Covenant. Just as Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt and
into the Promised Land, Jesus leads us out of the bondage of sin and into the
blessedness of His salvation. This is why God chose the occasion of a Passover,
which commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, to inaugurate the New Covenant (Luke
Now we come again to Deuteronomy 7:9. "The Faithful
(El Hana’eman), from the root aman, which means
"assurance" or "faithfulness."286 It implies
something tested and proven. God wants us to know
that His faithfulness has been verified. His promise keeping
power has been tested and proven throughout Israel’s history. He mentions the
Exodus as a case in point: "But because Yehovah loved you and kept the oath
which He swore to your forefathers, Yehovah brought you out by a mighty hand,
and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of
Egypt" (Deut 7:8).
The story of the Exodus reminds us of several things
concerning God’s faithfulness. First, His faithfulness is not diminished by
the passage of time. God is never in a hurry, and He never forgets. The Jewish
nation had been in Egypt for 430 years (Ex 12:40-41), yet He remembered His
promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob half a millennium before (Ex 3:6-10). The
same principle applies to God’s promises to the Church. Peter foresaw that the
long span of time between our Lord’s first and second comings would be
misunderstood by the skeptics. They would see this 2,000-year delay as an
indication that the Lord is not coming back at all! "Know this first of
all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after
their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever
since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning
of creation’" (2 Peter 3:3-4). The people who scoff at these end time
prophecies do not realize that in so doing they are fulfilling these prophecies.
A few verses later, Peter reminds us that God’s sense of
timing is not as constrained as ours: "But do not let this one fact escape
your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day" (2 Pet 3:8). It has been approximately 6,000
years, or six "days," since Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden.
The seventh day signifies the coming of our blessed Messiah and the
beginning of a 1,000-year Sabbath rest. He is coming just as surely as the sun
will rise tomorrow morning!
We are told that He is a faithful God who keeps His promises
to those who "love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand
generations." How long is that? If we use the figure of 40 years for a
generation (Ps 95:10), it would be 40,000 years! God is saying that He will keep
all of His promises, even if it takes 40,000 years to do it! The passage of time
may take its toll on us, but it has no effect on God.
Second, His faithfulness is not
diminished by opposition. During the Exodus, Moses was opposed by
the most powerful man on earth at that time: Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Yet God
brought His people out of Egypt. ". . . and Yehovah brought us out of Egypt
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs
and wonders" (Deut 26:8). God is not deterred by opposition; He is
motivated by it.
Third, His faithfulness is not
diminished by contrary opinions. Some Israelites were not in
agreement with the decision to leave Egypt. They preferred the job security of
being slaves for Pharaoh. The pay wasn’t much and the working conditions weren’t
the greatest, but at least they had a roof over their heads and food to eat!
Once in the wilderness, the dissenters became grumblers and complainers (Num
11:4-6). Even so, God was ultimately faithful to keep His promise and bring His
people to Canaan.
Today in our society as Christians we have quickly become the
minority, the scum of society. Paul wrote, "And indeed, all who desire to
live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim 3:12). If we endure
the persecutions of our time, Jesus promises that in heaven we will be blessed
beyond our imaginations.
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