Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Jesus is Jehovah/ YHWH/ God of the Old Testament

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This is one of the most bizarre of all my experiences since I became a Christian - to discover that (supposedly) all Christians believe that the God of the Old Testament is Jesus.

This was news to me.

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I first came across this in Mormonism where it is made very clear, explicit and up-front:

[Jesus Christ] “...was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3).

http://lds.org.uk/topics/jesus-christ?lang=eng&country=gb

Thus, no Mormon could be in any doubt about the identity of the God of the Old Testament - this is a primary element framing the religious education and scriptural reading of the convert and of children.

Initially, I supposed that this was one of the distinctive beliefs of Mormons - but no, supposedly all mainstream Christian denominations believe this too!

But unlike Mormons, Mainstream Christians hardly ever mention the fact!

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It is remarkable that, throughout my whole life (including 7 years at a Church of England Primary School), the idea that Jesus was Jehovah had literally never crossed my mind, and nobody had ever told me about it.

I had always assumed that the God of the Old Testament was God the Father - and that therefore what made Christians different from Jews was that they also believed - from the New Testament - that Jesus was God; in other words, I assumed that the God of the Old Testament (Father), plus Jesus of the New Testament - plus mentions of the Holy Ghost from both Testeaments - were the basis of the Holy Trinity.

Indeed, I had thought that almost everything we knew about God the Father was from His having featured so prominently in the OT.

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I still find it hard to get my mind around this! 

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Having discovered my mistake, I have for a while been looking out for evidence from the mainstream denominations that they do indeed believe that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament - and I can find precious little.

 Maybe there is some statement somewhere which I have missed - but that is the point: surely something as vital as this should not be possible to miss!

I combed my ESV study Bible, and the notes, for some indication that when God is mentioned or appears in the OT then this was actually Jesus - but I couldn't find any - and there was nothing in the introduction either. Same for the Orthodox Study Bible, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Michael Pomazansky; and the DK Illustrated Children's Bible.

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As I say I could have missed the statement that Jehovah is Jesus - but the point is that I was looking for it, and failed to find it!

Surely something as important as this should be stated over and again - with notes to every single appearance or mention of God in the OT to clarify when this refers to Jesus and when to God the Father.

Indeed, there would be a case for preparing a beginners Bible paraphrase in which the OT was rewritten to include the name of Jesus throughout, explaining the nature of his maifestations - as and when appropriate.  

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I find all this extremely weird!

What is the situation, I wonder - do most Christians have the same misconception that I did - that the OT God is God the Father?

And are the theologians just taking it for granted that Christians already know that the OT God is really Jesus (even in introductory material, and material for children) - and they regard this as so obvious that they never need explicitly to mention it, or to clarify the matter to converts and born again Christians?

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I also find that the fact of Jehovah being Jesus has further implications - for example with respect to Jews. Some Christians assume that - since the only way to salvation is by Jesus - then Jews are excluded from salvation.

Yet if Jews are actually worshipping Jesus as their Lord under the identity of Jehovah/ YHWH, then is it not possible or likely that they will be saved - regardless of their failure to recognize the incarnate Christ?

Seems worth thinking about at any rate - and the fact that I have never heard mention of the question seems strange - if all Mainstream Christians really do already know that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, and have considered the implications of that fact.

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Note: Interestingly, if you Google this question, many of the top hits are material for the use of those trying to convert Jehovah's Witnesses to Mainstream Protestant Christianity. Again the assumption is that Mainstream Christians all know this already. Yet the Scriptural evidence cited is all indirect and scattered - so that the fact Jehovah is Jesus is NOT easily disocvered from simply reading the Bible: it requires a very comprehensive and detailed knowledge of scripture and the ability to make indirect inferences.