I talk with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come knocking. We also have some Unitarians who attend the Christian school where I teach (I teach Science, Bible, and Electronics at a high school level). These families do not sign our trinitarian Statement of Faith, though they are some of the loveliest people you might ever meet. Combined with a growing knowledge and desire to live the Christian life, and to worship God, from a trinitarian perspective, these things lead me to spend a lot of time meditating on the Trinity and on scriptural proofs that the Trinity is an accurate representation of God.
I want to share with you, and explain the significance of, two Old Testament passages mentioning YHWH (the name of God in Hebrew, pronounced Yahweh). These two passages are referred to by the New Testament writers and used by them to identify Jesus as YHWH. YHWH is usually translated in smaller sized capitals, LORD, so that the reader does not make the same association as the word Lord (without the extra capital letters).
I will attempt to clearly show that the biblical Christian God with the name YHWH is the same as the person Jesus. This will demonstrate that Jesus is indeed the divine God, an essential building block toward the full doctrine of the Trinity.
Giving credit where it is due, I have heard these two links in several places but the most recent, and clearly presented, was from Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. I thoroughly recommend regular watching of his Dividing Line webcast to keep in touch with what is happening in the apologetics scene and to keep sharp with your own arguments.
First, let us take a look at Psalm 102 and I am considering verses 18 to 27:
“18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: 19 that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, 21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, 22 when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days — you whose years endure throughout all generations!”
25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.”
The key thing to note here is that the context is clearly about God and His eternality. YHWH, the LORD (verses 18, 19, 21, 22), is referred to as He (verse 23), God (verse 24) and “you” (verses 24 to 27). To emphasise the point, the LORD is the person from verse 27 of who it is said, “you are the same, and your years have no end.”
Now we turn to Hebrews chapter 1 in the New Testament, and we consider verses 8 to 12:
“8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”“
Verse 12 in Hebrews chapter 1 is quoted from Psalm 102. I have included from verse 8 immediately above because you should be able to see, quite clearly, that the Son is being spoken of, in these verses from Hebrews chapter 1, saying that his years will have no end. Hebrews chapter 2 identifies the Son from chapter 1 as Jesus. So we can see that Jesus is YHWH.
Where this text from Psalm 102 is stronger than the previously mentioned “God” in Hebrews 1:8, is that Jesus is not just called God. Jesus is also called YHWH. There are a few rare uses of the word god which are not applied to YHWH, and context must determine whether the God or god is YHWH or not. Context is usually clear enough but, by using the stronger link to divinity of the name YHWH/LORD, we demonstrate a clearer understanding from Scripture that Jesus is divine.
Our second Old Testament passage is from Isaiah chapter 6. Consider verses 1 to 5:
“1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”“
Once again, we see the name LORD used to describe the person who Isaiah saw, not in verse 1 but in verse 3. This is straightforward, so we’ll jump quickly into John chapter 12 to compare. Consider verses 36 to 43:
“36 When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
Verse 36 establishes that this section is talking about Jesus. If you follow the section down to verse 41, you can see that Isaiah saw “his” glory and spoke of him. Again, to emphasise the obvious, Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of him. This is a clear link to the passage from Isaiah chapter 6, where Isaiah saw the LORD (YHWH). The verse from John above which directly quotes Isaiah (verse 40) is taken from the same chapter in Isaiah when Isaiah saw YHWH (Isaiah 6:10).
These two Old Testament links to Jesus as the divine LORD, or YHWH, are very strong. I haven’t heard anything remotely solid that addresses this particular defense of Jesus as fully God. If you do hear of, or know one, please let me know. Otherwise, may these words be a blessing to you, a strengthening to your faith in Jesus, and a useful tool for your defense of the true Christ – the only one who is able to save.