2002-06-19 - Trinity
Today's question: "I have Jewish friends; what scriptures in the Old Testament speak of the Trinity? Thank you."
Today we begin the summer question series with this question. It is based on a response to the Monday devotional, which was on the Trinity and focused on the New Testament. This is a fair question. It is not an easy question, but it is fair. We know the word Trinity is not in the Bible, but I have maintained that the concept is. In looking at the Old Testament, we are not going to find explicit references to the Trinity. But the question really is whether we can deduce from the Old Testament that it has the Trinity in view. To deduce is to come to a conclusion by sufficient reason. I am not playing with words here, because I think we can, in fact, see the Trinity in view in the Old Testament. Then, of course, we must apply to our lives the question at hand.
Let us begin by looking at some of the verses that imply that the Godhead is made up of more than one person:
Genesis 1:26 Let Us make man in Our image.
There is therefore no denying the "Us-ness" of who God declares Himself to be. We might even compare the threefold blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 with the verse we used on Monday, 2 Corinthians 13:14.
In Psalm 45:6, 7 we have a prophetic passage which seems to designate Christ as the Anointed One. There are several ways we might look at this passage, but translation scholars seem to agree that the Hebrew is here in reference to Christ, and thus there is capitalization in the proper pronouns that would refer to Christ in the English translations. This can also be seen in Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 44:6-7 and Isaiah 44:14. The passage in Isaiah 9, especially verse 6, where the child is called "Mighty God," also gives credence to Christ being God. In reference to Christ, we should also visit Jeremiah 23:6. "In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The Lord Our Righteousness.'"
So we move on to the Spirit, and I will simply list some verses that you may look up if you desire. Genesis 1:2 and 6:3, Psalm 104:30 and 119:7, Job 26:13, Isaiah 48:16. I give you the verses without comment, so we can get practical for a moment. We might wish to ask what practical value this has for us. I would submit to you that there is tremendous practical value here. The Bible is consistent through and through. I was amazed how much material there is in the Old Testament that shows the existence of the Trinity. This exercise was a learning experience for me.
But your question was, "What do I tell my Jewish friend?" Well, you can't simply take these verses and bop him or her over the head and say, "seeeee?" That will have the adverse reaction than what was planned. There is a way to incorporate this into conversation, but it is best done in a gentle manner. This is true with all witnessing for Christ. We can't simply unload when we think we have our "shot" at "winning" them to Jesus. The intended convert becomes a deer caught in the headlights, or worse yet, we leave the conversation with a smile, thinking we have done our Christian duty, and they are left feeling like they just got hit by a train.
If such things don't come up naturally in conversation with someone who is Jewish, then you can always take the approach of, "I was wondering how you interpret this verse? It seems to me that it implies the Trinity, and I think there are a few others also like it, but what do you think?" Believe me, that is enough for them to feel like they have been hit by a train.
Lifestyle evangelism is a lost art. We need to seek to be natural, honest and winsome in evangelism. That often means taking the time to care, showing we care, and waiting for the Lord to work in His time. Salvation is not about us. It is about Christ and His Atonement. We are often so focused on the "moment of sharing" in church, or the need of the hour, that we lose sight that this is all in God's hands. He makes no mistakes. As Christ prayed, "Thy will be done," Matthew 6:10. Sorry for the rant.
Thanks for starting us off this summer with a great question.
Soli Deo Gloria,