Part III: When the Word Became Flesh
In The Volume Of
The Book It Is Written Of Me
Then said He unto them,
O fools, and slow of heart
to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
ought not Christ
to have suffered these things,
and to enter into his glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets,
He expounded unto them in all the scriptures
the things concerning Himself .
I shall never
forget the time when I first discovered that the Lord Jesus of
the New Testament was the Lord of Hosts, the Jehovah, of the
Old: that the God who in Genesis created the heavens and the
earth was the Logos who in John's Gospel was made flesh and dwelt
among us that we might behold his glory.
And I shall never forget the time
when a young Hindu student at a conference where I was speaking
of this amazing fact, suddenly broke into the discussion and
said ‹ with almost breathless comprehension, "You mean
Jesus was the God who created the universe?"
I remember so well, too, sitting
on a rug before an open fire with friends around an open Bible
‹ and one of them said, "When people in the Old Testament
talked with God face-to-face, was it really Jesus they were talking
It is strange how this astounding
truth suddenly strikes one. It is
strange because the first
chapter of John's Gospel is almost as familiar to most readers
and as quotable from memory as John 3:16. We read here that "in
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. . . . All things were made by Him; and without
Him was not anything made that was made. . . And the Word was
made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1,2,14). For all
the familiarity of this passage, the meaning of it seems to escape
2 of 12
No wonder the Jews were staggered
at his claim when He said, "Before Abraham was, I am"
(John 8:58). To claim pre-existence was not so unbelievable to
the Jews, for they had already considered reincarnation as a
viable explanation not only of the origin of the soul but also
of the re-appearance in children and grandchildren of the mannerisms
and characteristics of parents and grandparents. It was the basis
of their questions about the relationship between Elijah and
John the Baptist. And it may have been in the back of Nicodemus'
mind when he asked, "Can a man enter a second time into
his mother's womb and be born?" (John 3:4).
What they found utterly incredible
was that the man who stood before them could actually be God,
the very God whose name they dare not even mention and whom to
see face-to-face was as good as receiving a death sentence (Genesis
32:30; Exodus 33:20; Judges 6:22,23; 13:22). Here was a man whose
mother and father they knew, whose brothers and sisters were
just ordinary people and part of the community, a man who had
little or no formal education and belonged to a family which
was in no way remarkable and without social status. And this
man was now claiming that He had been personally involved with
his own Father in heaven as a co-worker in the creation and running
of the universe (John 5:17). They understood what He meant ‹
but it was worse than unbelievable: it was blasphemous.
They were appalled at his effrontery:
and yet somehow his "presence" checked their resolve
whenever they decided it was time to put an end to this nonsense.
In the light of their conviction
that sickness was always the result of sinfulness, one can imagine
their confusion when He said with absolute assurance to a total
cripple, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." For who can forgive
sins but God only? They must have thought that God would punish
Him at once for his presumption. But God did not punish Him ‹
for it was not presumption at all. The Lord Jesus then proceeded
to prove this by saying, in effect, "You are right. But
let me show you that my Father will not punish Me but will fully
support Me in what I am about to do, for this man is a cripple
because of sin and I can forgive sin." Then turning to the
cripple, He said, "Arise, and take up thy bed and go thy
way unto thy house." And immediately the man got up and
took up his bed and went away before them
all; and they were amazed
and glorified God, saying, "We never saw it on this fashion"
(Mark 2:1‹12). It must have been clear to the Pharisees that
He had indeed forgiven this man his sins and that was why he
was healed. This was what made it such an exceptional healing.
The Lord Jesus proved his point. Whether He said to the man,
"Thy sins be forgiven thee" or "Take up thy bed
and walk," made no difference. He had power to command both
things, and his power was demonstrated by the result.
Some were overcome by the glory
of his Person and simply fell at his feet and worshipped Him.
And never once did He refuse their worship, nor rebuke it. Of
the ten lepers healed on one occasion, one came back to say,
"Thank You, Lord." The record is entirely artless in
its simplicity. "One of them, when he saw he was healed,
turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down
at his feet, giving Him thanks" (Luke 17:15,16). He fell
down at God's feet giving Him thanks.
This, then, is He who, though born
later than John by six months and to this extent came after him,
was nevertheless before him (John 1:27) and whose very
shoe latchet John felt himself unworthy to undo. This is He who
said to the Pharisees, "and what if you shall see the Son
of man ascending up where he was before?" (John 6:62). For
this is He who shared the glory of the Father in his pre-incarnate
existence (John 17:5).
No man can accept the worship of
other men without doing damage to his own soul ‹ unless he
is God. The first commandment is that we should worship only
God. We are not to bow down and worship any other. And we are
so constituted that this commandment is for our own good. To
disobey it is not merely morally wrong, it is spiritually damaging
both to the worshipper and to the object of veneration. He who
therefore accepts the worship of man as God and claims the right
to do so is either indeed God or is the most wicked of men, for
he is destroying both himself and them. For such a One as Jesus,
whose whole life is universally recognized as epitomizing all
that is noble in human nature and human relationships, to accept
the worship of men as He did without damage either to them or
Himself, can only signify that He was (and is) God. "Ye
call Me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am" (John
In keeping with this claim about
his true identity we may note that He knew, and openly proclaimed,
the sinlessness of his own life (John 8:46). Never once did He
apologize for his own behaviour or leave the slightest impression
that He felt He might better have acted otherwise. Never once
did He pray for Himself or ask forgiveness of either man or his
Father in heaven. Never once did He feel the need to justify
his claims of equality with God. He said without apology
"I and the Father
are one" (John 10:30); "Who hath seen Me hath seen
the Father" (John 14:9).
But was it such
a profoundly new thing ‹ that Jehovah should become man?
Yes, and, No. It was a new thing that Jehovah should become a
man forever without surrendering deity. But to become man for
a particular occasion and for a season only was by no means a
new thing. Jehovah had already upon a number of occasions assumed
human form so completely as to be able to walk and talk with
man (with Adam and Eve in the Garden, for example), to be entertained
at a man's table (by Abraham, for example), to wrestle with a
man all night (with Jacob, for example), and to be seen and spoken
to by many individuals, and on one occasion by a number of people
together (by Moses and Manoah, for example; and by the elders
of Israel on Mount Sinai). Upon all these occasions, the Lord
Jesus ‹ the Jehovah of Hosts ‹ must have assumed just
that degree of real incarnation in human form as was necessary
to make his direct contact or confrontation with man a real though
unusual experience for them.
It was in this sense, speaking
of his identity as the Jehovah of the Old Testament that He could
say, "In the volume of the book it is written of Me"
(Hebrews 10:7). He need not have meant only that the prophets
had everywhere predicted his coming, nor merely that throughout
the Scriptures there were "types" of his Person and
his work everywhere to be seen by the discerning. He meant literally
that He had walked with men throughout history ‹ personally,
concretely, even intimately at times. He had, in fact, assumed
a form of embodiment on numerous occasions in order to mediate
between God and man, appearing in truly human aspect with such
similitude that they scarcely showed surprise until, in retrospect,
they suddenly realized that their encounter had been with no
other than Jehovah Himself.
In Eden, Adam and Eve must surely
have supposed themselves to be talking to one of their own kind.
After they had disobeyed, it does not appear that they had any
reason to suppose hiding themselves was a waste of time. Their
action suggests that they genuinely believed they could somehow
conceal what had happened from this One with whom they shared
the Garden. They heard his voice, and perhaps they heard his
footsteps. The Hebrew only tells us that they heard the sound
of the Lord walking in the Garden. Was this imagination?
Does a spiritual being make a noise like this? In the Lord's
post-resurrection appearances, his disciples are never said to
have heard Him coming: He always appeared suddenly and silently
in their midst. Evidently in his dealings with Adam and Eve He
approached them much as we would approach our friends ‹ i.e.,
as a human being
approaches another human
When the Lord approached Abraham,
this is how He came ‹ visibly from some little distance,
giving Abraham warning as we are apt to give our friends warning.
This is human behaviour. Abraham ran to meet Him (Genesis 18:2).
When he prepared food, did he believe that his visitor would
only eat it in a token sense, transmuting it of necessity (mouthful
by mouthful) into some ethereal substance commensurate with the
ghostly nature of his guest? Or did he in fact arrange a place
with cushions for his guest to be seated at his "table"?
And did Jacob wrestle so vigorously with some purely spirit form
as to put his hip out of joint?
Must we not assume that at least
upon these occasions (if not all occasions) He whom all these
people had to deal with was really there in very truth, accommodated
somehow to their physical senses in a way that for the short
interval of the experience left no doubt about the reality of
Him? Must we not conclude that on these occasions the Lord Jehovah
already partook of our nature in some sense: certainly as long
as man himself has existed ‹ and perhaps indeed before man
was created in order that man might be created in his image?
And not a few of
these divine interferences in human history must therefore have
involved a kind of pre-incarnation "incarnation." It
was no new thing or strange thing that He should one day say,
"Lo, I come" when it was announced in heaven that a
body was prepared for Him. Only, He was now to come among men
in a new way, to remain permanently embodied.
We tend to overlook these pre-incarnation
incarnations because we mistakenly suppose that whenever the
record speaks of such appearances, it was God the Father who
was seen. I believe it can be established from John 1:18 that
every local manifestation of Jehovah recorded in the Old testament
must have been a visitation of the Lord Jesus, anticipating the
time when He would enter lastingly into just this kind of human
association but by a more permanent form of incarnation in order
that He might become Saviour and not merely Mediator.
Consider the wording in John 1:18.
"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son
who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath made Him known."
I believe the sentence requires us to understand that God is
to be identified as the Father in the first part of this sentence.
So that we may legitimately rephrase this sentence: "No
man hath seen God the Father at any time; the only begotten
* After all, we are to be conformed to his
image (Romans 8:29) and even now, as his people, partake of something
of the divine image (2 Peter 1:4).
Son who is in his bosom,
hath made Him known." From which we must assume that those
who saw the Lord, who spoke with Him, who had face-to-face encounters
with Him in the Old Testament were not, in the personal sense,
face-to-face with the Father but face-to-face with the Son.
Unless we make this assumption, it is impossible to reconcile
John 1:18 with the numerous theophanies of the Old Testament.
But can we demonstrate this proposition
by a direct appeal to Scripture? I believe we can. And one way
in which this can be done has not generally been noted by commentators
in the past.
Let us take a few examples of such
theophanies in which the identity of the One seen is established
for us in the New Testament. Establishing identity presents no
problems in such cases. For example, Isaiah tells us that he
had a vision of the Lord (Isaiah 6:1ff.) and that he was given
a commission to go and speak to the people of Israel even though
they would refuse to hear him. In John 12:27ff., this incident
is referred to again. A close parallel is drawn between Isaiah's
situation and the experience of the disciples who had also had
a vision of their Lord and yet had discovered, to their surprise,
that Israel still refused to hear what they had to say. John
points out how similar the situation was, and makes the observation
that it was really the same divine figure giving the same commission
to his messengers with the same predictably unfruitful outcome
‹ in both cases. So he says: "These things said Isaiah
when he saw his glory and spake of Him." He
whom Isaiah saw was the same Lord. The Jehovah of Isaiah and
the Lord of the disciples was One and the same Person.
Throughout the Psalms, the work
of creation is ascribed to Jehovah, and in John l:1‹3 and
Colossians l:15, 16, the work of creation is ascribed to the
Lord Jesus. In Hebrews 1:7‹13 we find a number of such passages
from the Psalms drawn together and identified clearly with the
Lord Jesus, the divine Son of God, who had walked across the
pages of history for thirty-three years. This Man, born of a
virgin mother, was none other than Jehovah who had laid the foundation
of the earth and fashioned the heavens!
Many passages in the Old Testament
which we assume have reference to the Father are really references
to the Son. Thus Exodus 17:2 and 7 records how the children of
Israel tempted the Lord: and 1 Corinthians 10:9 tells us that
this Lord was Jesus Christ. In Malachi 3:1 He who calls Himself
the Lord of Hosts says, "I will send my messenger and he
shall prepare the way before Me." In Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3
and Luke 3:4 the identity of this messenger as John the Baptist
is clearly established. The ME of Malachi 3:1 must accordingly
have been the Lord Jesus, the Lord of Hosts of the Old Testament!
In Zechariah 12:10 we read: "And
I will pour down upon the
house of David and upon
the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications:
and they shall look upon ME whom they have pierced." It
is important to note the wording here, since John 19:37 quotes
this passage slightly differently by converting the word ME to
HIM. But the ME in Zechariah 12:10 correctly represents the original
Hebrew. Since the speaker is the Lord, Jehovah ‹ according
to Zechariah 12:4, 7 and 8 ‹ the ME who is to be pierced
must also be Jehovah.
Now there are a number of passages
in the Old Testament in which the Trinity is not only intimated
but the individual persons within the Trinity are identified
for us by a simple device which, although it has seldom been
commented upon, has nevertheless been faithfully adopted by many
of the scholarly versions of the Old Testament, including the
King James Version. The Old Testament speaks of God under
various titles ‹ Lord, God, Lord God, Lord of Hosts, the
Almighty, and so forth. The title I wish to discuss here is the
couplet Lord God which in many versions (King James
Version, Revised Standard Version, Revised Version, American
Standard Version, etc.) is printed using two different type
styles. The remarks which follow apply equally to this couplet
whether it is qualified by a personal pronoun or not. What I
have to say therefore is true whether the text reads the Lord
God, or the Lord thy God, or the Lord our God, and so forth.
In short, the comments which follow relate to any combination
of the two words Lord and God, but they only
apply when these two words are presented together as a couplet.
The rule I am about to explain cannot be applied where the word
Lord or the word God appears by itself. This is
an important observation to note carefully because many friends
who have found this discovery a most exciting one have tried
to apply it to the two words when they appear singly, only to
find it cannot be so applied; and so the discovery has served
to confuse rather than enlighten.
These two words, this couplet,
will be found sometimes printed as (a) Lord GOD and in
other instances as (b) LORD God. This may seem to be a
small difference but it is an important one and it has been done
to reflect faithfully a difference in the original Hebrew. In
order to make sure that these distinctions are clearly understood,
Fig. 18 (a) and (b) shows the difference between these two forms
on an enlarged scale.
Now the first
type style is used to represent an original in the Hebrew which
may be transliterated as Adonai Jehovah, and the second
as Jehovah Elohim. It is not important in the present
context to explain why these forms of type were originally chosen
by the scholars who produced the King James Version, but it is
only necessary to note that the two combinations appear to have
a different reference even though they share the name Jehovah
(or Yahweh as it may originally have been) in common. These
two combinations are apparently intended by their difference
to distinguish between two Persons in the Godhead. Thus, as an
example, in the King James Version Isaiah 48:16 and 17 reads:
Come ye near unto me, hear ye
this. I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the
time that it [i.e., the beginning] was, there am I: and now the
Lord GOD and his Spirit hath sent me.
Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the
Holy One of Israel, I am the LORD thy
God who teacheth thee to profit, who leadest thee by the way
thou shouldest go.
at this, one sees that in verse 16 three Persons are clearly
involved: two are responsible for the sending, and one is sent.
One of the senders is the Holy Spirit, the other is identified
as the Lord GOD. The speaker ("me")
is the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, whom we know without
doubt to be the Lord Jesus. Since we can now identify both the
One who is sent and the Spirit who sends Him, we can automatically
establish that the other sender, the Lord GOD,
is God the Father. We can also establish from verse 17 that the
title, the LORD thy God, is the Jesus
Christ of the Gospels. We thus have this key:
Lord GOD, in which the second
word is entirely capitalized, is the Father.
LORD God , in which the first
word is entirely capitalized, is the Son.
As a simple
mnemonic aid, we may note that when the word GOD is written entirely in capitals, God the Father is
in view; and when the word LORD is set
entirely in capitals, the Lord Jesus Christ is in view. With
this key we may look profitably at some important passages rather
similar to Isaiah 48:16 and 17.
example, in Isaiah 61:1 and 2 we have the following statement:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed
me to preach good tidings unto the meek, He hath sent me to bind
up the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year
of the Lord. . . .
is familiar with the New Testament will remember that this is
the passage which Jesus Christ read in the synagogue (Luke 4:18,19)
to an audience spellbound by the graciousness of his words. When
He had finished reading He closed the book, returned it to the
minister, and sat down. And then He said (verse 21): "This
day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." In short,
He was saying that the reference here was to Himself, He was
the me in this passage. Since there is no question as
to the identity of the me, Lord GOD must
clearly refer to the Father.
Now I do not want this to become
too involved, but a note of caution is necessary at this point.
When the words Lord and God stand alone and not
joined together as a couplet such as we have been examining,
either word may apply equally to the Father or to the Son or
to the Holy Spirit, indiscriminately. Thus it is not possible
merely by reference to the type style to know with assurance
the identity of the speaker when either word stands alone.
The key which we have been discussing above applies only
when the two words appear as a couplet. Thus in the last two
references considered above, the couplets 'the Lord thy GOD' and 'the LORD thy God' can both be assessed by this rule as to the
identity of the Person intended, whether the Father or the Son.
But the simple title Lord, as it occurs in Isaiah 61:1
for example (and in thousands of other passages), cannot be so
identified except by some other means. This is the first important
fact to bear in mind. The second important point to bear in mind
is that this key is limited entirely to the Old Testament. It
cannot be applied in the New Testament which is translated from
the Greek, not from the Hebrew. *
however, many illustrations of the common rule. Consider, for
example, the import of Zechariah 14:4 and 5: "And
* The situation is complicated a little bit,
as the reader will discover when seeking to apply these rules,
by the fact that the Lord Jesus as the Second Adam and Federal
Head of a new race is occasionally spoken of as Father (see,
for example, Isaiah 9:6). And the Father appears occasionally
in the role of Saviour (see, for example, Isaiah 63:8), a circumstance
which is reflected in 1 Timothy 1:1. So that now and then the
Lord Jesus appears in the Old Testament as Lord GOD, and the
Father as LORD God. The context itself never leaves the issue
his feet shall stand
in that day upon the Mount of Olives, and the LORD thy God shall come with all his saints." This
passage must be read in the light of two important facts revealed
in the New Testament. First, that the Lord Jesus ascended into
heaven from the Mount of Olives. Luke 24:50, 51 tells
us that "He led them out as far as to Bethany [which is
a village on the east slope of the Mount of Olives], and He lifted
up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass that while
He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into
heaven." Secondly, that as He ascended from the Mount of
Olives (according to Acts 1:10‹12), "Two men stood by
them in white apparel and said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand
ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from
you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen
Him go into heaven." Thus as He ascended from the
Mount of Olives, so shall his feet "in that day" once
again touch down upon the Mount of Olives. "This same Jesus"
of Acts 1:11 is the LORD thy God who is
to "come with all the saints with Him," according to
In Isaiah 50:4‹7 there is another
clear illustration of identification by the distinctive use of
The Lord GOD
hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how
to speak a word in season
to him that is weary: . . .
The Lord GOD
hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned
I gave my back to the smiters,
and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid my face
from shame and spitting.
For the Lord GOD
will help me: therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore
have I set my face like a flint.
The Lord GOD is here, without doubt, the Father; and it is the
Lord Jesus who was both given the tongue of the learned to speak
a word in season to him that is weary but also who set his face
like a flint to go up to Jerusalem and gave his back to the smiters.
In Isaiah 56:8 we have one more
such illustration: "The Lord GOD
who gathered the outcasts of Israel said, 'Yet will I gather
others unto Him, besides those that are (already) gathered
unto Him'." Manifestly this reflects the "other sheep"
of which the Lord Jesus speaks in John 10:16 and 29, and even
more specifically in John 17:6 and 9. The Him of this
passage is therefore clearly the Chief Shepherd Himself. And
the Lord GOD must be the Father.
It seems appropriate that the Father
should wipe away the tears from his children when the day of
our true rest finally comes (Revelation 21:4) and accordingly
the Old Testament pre-vision of this wonderful day in Isaiah
25:8 acknowledges this fact by the appropriate type style of
the words, the Lord GOD:
He [the Son] will swallow up death in
victory; and the Lord GOD [the Father]
will wipe away tears from all faces and the rebuke of his people
shall He take away from off all the earth.
It is a wonderful
thing to reflect upon the fact that the One whom Adam and Eve
walked with in Eden was the LORD God ,
the Lord Jesus Christ. The form of the title of deity and the
type style used throughout the Eden story (Genesis 2:7,8,9,15,16,18,19,21,22;
and 3:1,8,9,13,14,21,22,23) clearly demonstrates this. Here we
have consistently LORD God (with emphasis
upon the word Lord) thus telling us it was Jehovah with whom
Adam and Eve conversed so freely.
Now it is also worthy of note that
the Jews understood there must be a Mediator of some kind not
only between God and man but also between God and the world which
He had created. They believed that pure spirit either would not
or could not act directly upon the physical order. They came
to view the One who stood as Mediator in this interaction as
analogous to the part which is played by the spoken word as a
bridge between thought and action. Thus they held that the world
was created by the spoken Word, and they referred to this Mediator
by the name Memra, a Hebrew noun which signifies Word.
Some of the Jewish paraphrases or Targums of the Old
Testament substituted the word Memra wherever the original
text speaks of Jehovah as acting directly upon his creation.
They had thus, in effect, recognized what we have spoken of previously
as the pre-incarnation incarnation of Jehovah. As an example
of how they used the word, we may note that in the Targum
of Onkelos, Genesis 3:10 is rendered: "And [Adam] said,
I hid from the voice of the Memra and I was afraid because I
was naked." The Targum of Psalm 110:1 reads: "The
Lord said unto his Word."
From all of
which it is clear to the eye of faith the Lord Jesus as Jehovah
pre-existed his incarnation, and looms large indeed throughout
the whole of the Old Testament, mediating between God (who is
pure spirit) and the world and man which belong within the physical
order. The difference in this mediation in the two testaments
is that in the Old He mediated with a kind of temporary incarnation
whereas in the New He is mediating as embodied Man for ever.
And as such a Mediator, the Incarnation has not diminished but
expanded his office, though He is still the same Lord and still
one with his Father in heaven.
He who came down from his glory
to take possession of that little body in order that He might
truly experience our manhood, could indeed say, "In the
volume of the Book it is written of Me"! There are no "odd
references" here. The Son of God is everywhere to be found
from Genesis to Malachi.
Joseph called his name Jesus as instructed
by the angel. Why Jesus? Jesus is the Greek form of the
Hebrew name Joshua (as Hebrews 4:8 plainly shows *), which
in turn is a shortened form of the original compounded name Jehovah-Saviour.
His identity as both the Son of God and the Son of Man was therefore
foreshadowed in his original name as Jehovah and Saviour, for
it was because He would be a Saviour of his people that He received
the name Jesus.
was this foretold in Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given." He was indeed, as the Son
of Man, born as a child; He was indeed, as the Son of God, given
for our salvation (John 3:16). Only the Child was born, not the
Son. The Son of God was from all eternity.
* In the Septuagint, the Book of Joshua is
"The Book of Jesus" and the name Joshua always
appears in the form Jesus.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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