Who was "the LORD" of the Old Testament: Part 3

John Plunkett 

January 6, 2018

In the sermon today, I’d like to continue with the question: Who was "the LORD" of the Old Testament?

Last time in Part 2:

In the first part of my sermon today, I’d like to continue with this study – by examining a third scripture that might, at first, seem to imply that humans may have heard the Father’s voice.  Once we’ve done that, we’ll resume our study of the identity of “the LORD” of the Old Testament.

As I have been studying this over the past couple of weeks, many other, related, intriguing facts have jumped out at me – some things that I had never noticed before.  I will mention some of them as we go along today.

We find the third and, I believe, the last of the scriptures that seem to indicate that human beings have heard the Father’s voice in chapter 12 of John’s gospel account.  This was a few days prior to Jesus’ crucifixion.  But before we go to the actual “voice” verses, let’s set the stage and look at the context – both before and after “the voice” came:

John 12:
1:  Then Jesus six days before the Passover
{Jesus’ last one} came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead…

There are a few pieces of evidence that Satan was lurking around there somewhere.  After Mary had anointed Jesus with the very expensive spikenard ointment, we see evidence here of Satan “getting his oar in” as he started turning up the pressure on the already treacherous Judas:

Verse 4:  Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him,
5:  “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?”
6:  This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein…

Also present were others of Satan’s human henchmen who Jesus had called devil’s children a few chapters earlier (John 8:44):

Verse 10:  But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11:  Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Now we go forward to the next day – the fifth day before Jesus’ last Passover.  And the time of Jesus’ most major trials were getting really close:

12:  On the next day much people that were come to the Feast {Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread}, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13:  Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord” …

Professing Christianity refers to the day described here as “Palm Sunday.”  But we know that it was not a Sunday.  It was either a Thursday or a Friday – depending on how one is to understand the phrase “on the next day.”  But in any event, it certainly was not a Sunday!

Verse 16:  These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified {please note that word}, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him…

Although Jesus’ disciples couldn’t understand at the time why He would submit to this level of adoration, this whole event was yet another fulfillment of other Old Testament prophecies (e.g. Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 62:11).

But I particularly would like you to note the word “glorified,” because we are going to see it again over the next couple of verses.

Still looking at the context, let’s jump down to verse 19, where we see that Satan and his henchmen were still hanging around – as they had been on the previous day:

Verse 19a:  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “Perceive you how you prevail nothing? 

The basic meaning of what they said there was: "Using the tactics that we have used so far, we are accomplishing nothing." 

19b: … Behold, the world {Greek: Kosmos} is gone after Him”...

So, from this and verse 11, we see that they perceived that a lot of Jews had gone after Jesus.

And then, as we now examine the context after the voice was heard, Jesus refers directly to Satan himself.  And just look what He calls him here!:

Verse 31:  “Now is the judgment of this world {kosmos}; now shall the prince of this world {kosmos} be cast out.” 

He calls Satan "the prince of this world."  Just minutes before Jesus said this, the fickle Jews had called Him (Jesus) “the King of Israel.” 

Now that we have set the stage, and we have covered the context of the time before and after the coming of the voice, let’s go back a few verses and go through "the voice event" itself:

John 12:
20:  And there were certain Greeks
{likely Hellenist Jews} among them that came up to worship at the Feast {i.e. Jesus’ last Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread as a human being}

I am not totally sure of the significance of these Greeks; but I am sure there must be some.

But then, suddenly, a change takes place.  Something seemingly very important is starting to happen.  It seems like some kind of  major, historical "way-point" has been arrived at:

Verse 23:  And Jesus answered them {those “certain Greeks”}, saying, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified{there's that word again: "glorified"}.

Interesting – Jesus said that the hour had come; and yet there were still five days to go!  Again, please remember the mention of Jesus’ glorification back in verse 16.  The beginning of Jesus’ glorification process had arrived – the glorification process that would continue for another week or so.  It lasted until His resurrection on the Sabbath afternoon of Abib/Nisan 17.

One would think that this beginning of Jesus’ glorification process would have been a time for Him to rejoice!  But, far from rejoicing, look what He said next:

Verse 27a:  “Now is my soul troubled…

There are only three occasions when Jesus ever became troubled; and this was one of them.  Why had Jesus’ “soul” – His whole being – suddenly become “troubled”?  Was it because He dreaded His upcoming physical torture and pain?   

Partially maybe!  Nobody could blame Him for that.  But the Greek verb for the word troubled is tarasso {Strong’s 5015} and can also mean:

But, from what other scriptures tell us, it is more likely that the main reason that He became troubled was because He really did dread His upcoming total separation from His Father. 

Also, perhaps because, as verse 31 seems to imply, that very unwelcome “guest” had arrived on the scene in order to begin the completion of his dirty work.

Studying the Greek on this, it is my own personal perception that there is a strong possibility, even a probability, that this was a last-ditch effort by Satan to try to persuade Jesus to change His mind and to abandon following through with the imminent, world-saving, self-sacrifice plan that He and His Father had come up with. 

I know it doesn’t say so, and I know that we are not to add to the scriptures; but just perhaps Satan was saying to Jesus something like, “You know how you can avoid that painful separation from your Father!” 

Maybe.  Maybe not.  But one thing is for sure – what was happening here was a huge and very pivotal moment in the history of the world! 

If the arrival of Satan was a fact (and I truly believe that it was), who was Jesus talking to here?  Who were the following words addressed to?  Were they addressed just to that group of Hellenistic Jews who had come to see Him?  Or just to His disciples?  Or to others who were present?  Or perhaps to that very unwelcome guest? … as we shall see.

Seemingly right out of the blue, Jesus had become seriously troubled. And we're not told specifically why.  Some Greeks had come to see Him.  So what?  Why did He become troubled just because some Greeks had come to see Him?  

Seemingly totally unrelated to what He had said previously, just read what Jesus said next:

27b: … And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  

Is that what I should say?

Who had suggested any such thing to Him?  Who had suggested, “Hey, Jesus! “Why don’t you ask your Father to save you from this hour?”  We certainly don’t read of any human being suggesting such a thing!

27c: ... But for this cause came I unto this hour.

This hour of His glorification (verse 23)!

Perhaps because He had become troubled – perhaps because He was being severely tried once again by Satan – He immediately sent up this very brief prayer of contact with His beloved Father: 

28a:  Father, glorify your name”… 

Notice that Jesus comes right back to the related sub-topic of glorification!  But, not His own glorification, though.  But that of His Father’s name!

As we saw last time in Part 1, the Father’s name – His “surname” – His Family name – was Elohiym – the same as that of Jesus/YHVH.

In the Hebrew, the name of the Father is Ab.  In Aramaic it is Abba.  In Greek it is Pater.

The traditional view of what happened next is that the Father immediately responded – verbally – to His Son’s brief prayer of contact: 

28b: … Then came there a voice {phone} from heaven, {saying} “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
29:  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, “An angel spoke to Him.”

A couple of very valid difficulties arise from the English translation of this account.

First of all, in verse 28, the word “saying” in the KJV and the NKJV is not in the Greek!  And this addition can alter the whole meaning of the narrative!  If we remove the word “saying” from the English translation, as many modern versions do, it could even be construed that it was Jesus who said the words, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” – Jesus, and not the “phone” – the voice/sound/noise – from heaven!  It may seem unlikely perhaps; but it is certainly a possibility.

Secondly, why was there a disagreement between those who said that they heard thunder and those who believed that an angel had spoken to Jesus?  Nobody said that they heard the actual understandable words.  Some heard thunder.  Some said it was an angel.  

We might also ask of those people who thought that it was an angel that had spoken to Jesus, how they knew what an angel’s voice sounded like?  
Please remember, from last time, that the Greek word “phone” can also be an inanimate sound or noise rather than an animate voice.  The Greek tends to lean towards the idea of ‘sound’ rather than ‘voice.’

This caused me to ask, “Was this phone actually heard in an understandable, verbal form?”

We might tend to think so because we have read over this so many times; but if it was in a verbal form, why did some hear thunder, and why did others hear what they thought to be an angel’s voice, rather than a humanly understandable voice?

But, one might argue, if it was not in an understandable, verbal form, how did the apostle John know what was said, in order to write it down?

Of course, if it was Jesus who said it, the answer is obvious.  

But if the words did come from God the Father via this phone/voice/sound/noise, but not in an understandable, verbal form:

These are big things to try to get our minds around.  Yes, it is heavy stuff; but I believe that it is worth the effort, because, even if all our questions are not answered, this really gives us a glimpse into the realm of God the Father and Jesus Christ.  We can really dig in, and ask questions such as, “What are they like?” “What language do they speak?” “How do they communicate?” 

One day we will know.  These studies are just giving us some ideas.

But in this regard, Jesus’ words in verse 30 are very interesting:

30:  Jesus answered and said, “This voice {phone} came not because of me, but for your sakes.” 

If the words “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” did come from the Father via the phone/voice/sound/noise, even though Jesus said that it (the phone/voice/sound/noise) came for the sakes of those present rather than for Himself, it certainly was directed specifically to Jesus – in response to what He had just said: “Father, glorify your name.” 

Try and imagine it for yourself.  Put yourself in Jesus' place.  You know exactly what the manner of your death was going to be in just five days time.  Jesus certainly did need much encouragement to help Him though the events of the upcoming hours and days; and perhaps also, to withstand that possible last-ditch effort by Satan to thwart the plans of Jesus and His Father.  So, even though He had been in continuous contact with His Father, both throughout eternity as the LORD/YHVH and throughout His whole conscious physical life to that date (whereas the others present had not been in that kind of contact with the Father), still, such a contact from His Father must have been very comforting and strengthening to Jesus.

So why did the voice/sound come for their sakes rather than His own? 

Because their whole future – their very opportunity for salvation – and ours too! – was totally dependent upon what He and His Father would do at that very special juncture.

Okay, you might think I am speculating a bit here – that I am reading between the lines a little – with the idea that Satan was somehow in the picture at that time.  But I honestly believe that he was!  As we shall see! 

Satan had tried to deter Jesus from His plan, at least twice before – once at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry at the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Mark 1 and Luke 4) and once again when he tried to influence Jesus, through Peter, to save His own skin and to give up His great plan (Matthew 16; Mark 8).

If Jesus would have bowed to any of Satan’s suggestions that the sinful human race wasn’t worth the awful – but necessary and temporary – pain of Him being totally cut off from His Father; and if He would have said “Father, save me from this hour,” His Father would have whisked Him back to heaven in a split second.  And that would have been it!  It would have been it for those Hellenistic Jews; it would have been it for the disciples; it would have been it for you and me; and for the whole human race!

But He didn’t!  He rejected Satan’s temptations!  We should be eternally thankful that, rather than saying, “Father, save me from this hour,” Jesus said, “For this cause came I unto this hour!”

You might be asking how I link this astonishing event with some last-ditch effort by Satan at thwarting Jesus’ and the Father’s salvation plans for mankind.  And the answer is, because immediately after this amazing event, Jesus said this: 

Verse 31:  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

An adequate discussion of that one amazing verse would take a sermon all its own.  But, as far as those Greeks and the other human beings present hearing the Father’s actual, understandable voice, again, personally, I don’t believe so.  I believe that, if the words did come from the Father via this phone/voice/sound/noise, but not in an understandable, verbal form:

Let’s go back again to John 5:37… and let’s just read it again… just to update our memories:

John 5:37:
And the Father Himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me.  You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.

I have said that I may have been too dogmatic when I said that the “you” Jesus was referring to here was more than just that group of Jews who were present right there and then and who had been plotting His death.

Let’s just take another look at the context just to see if there is any chance that the alternate view – i.e. that it was only that small group of Jews – might be too narrow a view.   Let’s do this by looking at the verses in context that mention “you” and “ye”.

First, do the context scriptures actually say that it was just one small group of Jews that Jesus was referring to throughout this discourse? 

Here’s what they do say:

John 5:
16: And therefore did the Jews
{N.B. not “some Jews”} persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath Day…
Verse 18:  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath
{or rather their man-made rules about the Sabbath}, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Now let’s continue and, as we read these verses, please ask yourself if the “ye’s” and “you’s” here logically apply to a small group of Jews or the Jews of that day generally – or could some of these pronouns even be expanded to included virtually all of mankind?:

19:  Then answered Jesus and said unto them {i.e. the Jews}, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for what things soever He {the Father} does, these also does the Son likewise.
20:  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does: and He will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel…
Verse 24:  Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘He
{i.e. any one of you; or logically, any one of all mankind!} that hears my Word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.’
25:  Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live…

Again, the words “you,” “the dead” and “they” may refer to any one of that small group of Jews; or all the Jews generally; or to any one of all mankind!  Jesus is not targeting just that small group of Jews with these words.  These are warnings for all mankind!

Verse 33:  Ye sent unto John {the Baptist}, and he bore witness unto the truth.
34: But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
35: He
{John the Baptist} was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light…

The “ye” here obviously refers to all – or at least, very many – of the Jews of that day.  Mark 1:5 tells us that: "there went out unto him {John the Baptist} all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins."  Maybe not every single Jew in the land; but what the apostle John is saying is: a lot of Jews.  We also read earlier in John 12 that the Pharisees had said that "the world has gone after" Jesus.  That is a lot of Jews being spoken of here.

And now we come again to our “difficult scripture”:

Verse 37:  And the Father Himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.

We are asked to take this particular “ye” and to split it out and separate it out from all of the other “ye’s” and “you’s” that preced and follow it.  Let’s continue with this point to the end of the chapter:

38:  And ye have not His word abiding in you: for whom He has sent, Him ye believe not.
39:  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40:  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life…
Verse 42:  But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43:  I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name
{e.g. some so-called “prophet” or even some criminal like Barabbas!}, him ye will receive.

And the Jews did!

44:  How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that comes from God only?
45:  Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46:  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
47:  But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

I don’t know about you; but personally, I find it hard to believe that the “ye” in verse 37 can be separated out as referring to just one small group of murderous Jews, while all the “ye’s” and “you’s” in the rest of the chapter refer to virtually all the Jews of Jesus’ human lifetime.

I also ask myself: Why would God the Father, who has chosen to keep His perfectly holy Self totally separate from all of sinful mankind since their creation, and who has permanently refused to allow the Jews – and the rest of mankind – to see His shape and form; why would He then allow a few of them to hear His voice at any one of these times that we have studied.  It just doesn’t sit right with me!

Let’s move on from John 5:37 now.  There are some other questions that we should be asking.  And again, I believe that to dig into them is very worthwhile for us, and that by digging into them, we are able to see a little glimpse into the realm of God the Father and Jesus. 

There are a couple of other "difficult scriptures" regarding the identity of the LORD of the Old Testament, and the voice of God the Father.

As we read this next verse, I would like you to ask yourself: Who said these words in this scripture, and the other scriptures that quote this one?  Also, who were these words said to?  Who was on the receiving end?

Psalms 2:7:
I will declare the decree: the LORD has said unto me, “You are my son; this day have I begotten you.”

We can be sure from this that it was surely the LORD/YHVH who initially declared this decree, and said these words, “You are my son; this day have I begotten you.”

The English word “decree” was translated from the Hebrew noun “choq” (Strong’s 2706 –pronounced “coke”).  It is elsewhere translated as commandment, statute, ordinance, law and custom.  So, it is not just a decree that somebody puts out there, it is something a lot more serious and binding than that.

But who was the “me” and the “you” and “the son” that the LORD/YHVH originally, initially said this decree to? 

It was David!

Although Psalm 2 is not designated prior to verse 1 as “A Psalm of David” or “of Asaph” as many Psalms are, we can be sure that it was David who wrote Psalm 2 because Luke recorded the church brethren as saying so when they quoted a couple of its verses in Acts:4.

Here we read that the LORD/YHVH first said these words to, and through, David:

Acts 4: 
24:  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God
{Greek: Theos} with one accord, and said, “Lord {Greek: Despotes: Master}, you are God {Theos}, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is…

We know from many other scriptures that all things were made by the Word/Logos – the LORD/YHVH – the One who became Jesus.  Still in Acts, 4; but quoting Psalm 2:

25:  Who by the mouth of your servant David has said, “Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 
26:  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord
{Kurios}, and against His Christ {Christos: Anointed}.”

Just a note on this clumsy English translation in verse 26, which makes it sound as though the Lord and His Christ are two different, separate persons; but they are not.  The Greek word translated “His” in verse 26 is “autos” which is also frequently translated as Himself and the Same.

It was the LORD God – In the Greek "Despotes-Theos" – the LORD/YHVH – the One who became Jesus Christ, who said these words of Psalm 2.

How did the LORD transmit it to His Old Testament people who lived after David's time and the New Testament people?

He transmitted it – He says it – through the mouth – or rather the pen – of His servant David.

Did the LORD God actually say those words to David face-to-face, in person? 

Maybe.  Maybe not.  More likely, as with the other Psalms, it is likely that the LORD inspired these words into David’s mind, via the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

David’s words here in Acts 4:25-26 were quoted directly from the first two verses of Psalm 2:

Psalms 2:
1:  Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 
2:  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed.

Let’s ask the same question here in the Hebrew about the LORD and His Anointed mentioned in this verse.  Are they one and the same Person?  Or are they the two Persons of the God (Elohiym) Family? 

The Hebrew for verse 2 reads:

Yityatzvu malkhey-eretz w’rozniym nosdu-yachad al-YHWAH w’al-Mshiych

Which transliterated word-by-word means:

Continue kings (of) Earth and (the) honorable (ones) settle/consult unitedly against YHVH and against (the) Anointed/Consecrated (one).

So, with all this in mind, let’s re-read verse 7:

Psalms 2:7:
{David} will declare the decree: the LORD {YHVH} has said unto me {David},You {David} are my son; this day have I begotten you {David}.

So, once again from Acts 4, the LORD/YHVH first said these words to and through David.

But was David really the son of the LORD?

Yes, he was!  But how could that be?

David was a very important link between Adam and the human Jesus.  Actually, not only between Adam and the human Jesus; but between the One who created Adam and the human Jesus.

Back in I Samuel 16, when we first learn of David’s calling and anointing to be king, we learn that he was specifically chosen by the LORD to be the forefather of the human Jesus through His mother, Mary – as was his lineage all the way back to YHVH Himself – through Judah, Noah and Adam – as we learn in Genesis 49 and Matthew 1; but especially in Luke 3:

Luke 3:
31:  Which was [the son] of Melea, which was [the son] of Menan, which was [the son] of Mattatha, which was [the son] of Nathan, which was [the son] of David,
32:  Which was [the son] of Jesse, which was [the son] of Obed, which was [the son] of Boaz, which was [the son] of Salmon, which was [the son] of Naasson,
33:  Which was [the son] of Aminadab, which was [the son] of Aram, which was [the son] of Esrom, which was [the son] of Phares, which was [the son] of Juda,
34:  Which was [the son] of Jacob, which was [the son] of Isaac, which was [the son] of Abraham, which was [the son] of Thara, which was [the son] of Nachor …
Verse 38:  Which was [the son] of Enos, which was [the son] of Seth, which was [the son] of Adam, which was [the son] of God. 

We think these thousands of years are a long time; but when we look at these genealogies, we realize that these generations go by so quickly.

But does the fact that the LORD originally said these words of this “decree” to David – necessarily mean that this phrase “you are my son, today I have begotten you” was not later applied to Jesus?

No.  Of course it was.  We know that it was!  As with many other Old Testament quotes, we know that this one was applied to Jesus!  And more than once!  Let’s read a couple of the more obvious quotes of this verse.

Hebrews 5:5:
So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest; but He 
{God the Father} that said unto Him {Jesus}, “You are my Son, today have I begotten you.”

Although we have already seen that the LORD/YHVH said these words to David, in this case, the Father was the One who said it.  And who did the Father say it to?  Who heard the Father say it?  Jesus did!  

When the Father said these words to Jesus, what language did He speak to Him in?  Perhaps this was in their own “spiritual language.”

As we have seen, and as we shall see again next time, we New Covenant human beings “hear” these declarations from the Father – not face-to-face – not "mouth to ear."  

We "hear" them – or rather read them – via the pens of the prophets and the psalmists (in this case, David), through the recorded words of Jesus, and through the pens and voices of His New Covenant servants. 

Next time, in Part 4, we will come back to this and we will look at some more New Testament quotes of Psalm 2:7, which I believe will shed even more light upon who the LORD God of the Old Testament was, upon the amazing relationship between God the Father and Jesus, and even upon the very nature and realm of God.