THE GOD OF JESUS: PART SIX
Rock, Savior and Redeemer
Rock, Savior and Redeemer:
Both Elohim and YHWH are referred to as Rock, Savior and Redeemer in the OT. Typical of such statements are the following:
Deuteronomy 32: 3-4a: I will proclaim the name of the LORD (YHWH). Oh, praise the greatness of our God (Elohim)! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.
2 Samuel 22:1-3: David sang to the LORD (YHWH) the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: "The LORD (YHWH) is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God (Elohim) is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior-- from violent men you save me.
Psalm 18:46: The LORD (YHWH) lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God (Elohim) my Savior!
Psalm 89:26: He will call out to me, `You are my Father, my God (Elohim), the Rock my Savior.'
Isaiah 43:11: I, even I, am the LORD (YHWH), and apart from me there is no savior.
Isaiah 49:26b: …Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD (YHWH), am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
Because Jesus is referred to as Rock, Savior and Redeemer in the NT, some believe Him to be YHWH Elohim of the OT. Since the Son is believed to be one of three distinctions of a Trinitarian Godhead named YHWH, it is believed it is the Son distinction of YHWH who is the God revealed throughout the OT. It is believed Paul’s statement that the rock that accompanied Israel was Christ provides strong evidence for this position.
1 Corinthians 10:3-4: They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Did Christ, as an eternally existing Son distinction of a single God Being called YHWH, literally accompany Israel in the wilderness? Did an eternally existing Being called the Son in a family of two separate God Beings (Father and Son) accompany Israel as some believe? Did the Son as one of three separate God Beings (Father, Son and Spirit) accompany Israel as one Christian group believes? Is Jesus YHWH and Adonai and, therefore, the God identified throughout the Hebrew Scriptures?
In Luke chapter one, Mary, in response to learning about her and Elizabeth’s pregnancy, glorifies the Lord as God her Savior. In this same chapter, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, speaks of the Lord, the God of Israel raising up a descendant of the house of David as His agent of salvation to mankind. In chapter two, Luke writes about the man Simeon to whom it was revealed he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ which he defines as the Lord’s salvation. In all three of the following passages, it can be seen by looking at the entire narrative of Luke chapters one and two that it is God the Father who is being addressed by Mary, Zechariah and Simeon.
Luke 1:46-47: And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
Luke 1:68-69: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.
Luke 2:25-30: Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.
It should be apparent that when Mary, Zechariah and Simeon use the word “Lord” they are relating to the Father as the God of the OT. By context the Greek kurios (Lord) is referring to YHWH and is equivalent to the OT rendering of Adonai (Lord). Jesus is spoken of as “the Lord’s (YHWH /Adonai’s) Christ. Jesus is seen as the anointed of YHWH and represents the salvation of YHWH. Zechariah sees YHWH as the God of Israel who has provided an agent of salvation from the house of David. YHWH is seen as the God of Israel in contrast to Christ who is seen as a descendant of David. The very language of this passage and the other two under consideration precludes Jesus being YHWH.
How can the Son be the YHWH of the OT when the Son is seen as the anointed of the YHWH of the OT? As seen in Psalm 110:1, as previously discussed, the Son is not LORD (YHWH) but the appointed lord (adoni) of YHWH. YHWH is not the Son but the God of the Son.
Mary, Zechariah and Simeon see Jesus as the agent of the Father through whom salvation is accomplished. While Jesus is seen as savior in Scripture, in realty He is the agent of God the Father’s salvation. God the Father (YHWH) is seen throughout Scripture as the source of salvation.
John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
1 John 4:13-14: We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
In the OT, YHWH is seen as Israel’s salvation in bringing them out of Egypt and in delivering them from their enemies on an ongoing basis. In the NT, YHWH is seen as fulfilling His promise to provide a savior not only to Israel but to all of mankind. Jesus is called the Lord’s Christ because He is the anointed agent of YHWH in bringing salvation to the world. Jesus is the human descendant of David who fulfilled God’s promise to bring a savior to Israel.
Acts 13:22-23: After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' "From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.
Paul writes that Israel ate spiritual food and drank from a spiritual rock that accompanied them and that rock was Christ. Scripture tells us Christ is the fulfillment of God’s intention to bring into existence a descendant of David who will be a savior of Israel. David had not yet been born at the time Israel was in the wilderness. The birth and rulership of David occurred many years after the exodus. The birth of Christ occurred centuries later. Whatever Paul meant by his statement in 1 Corinthians 10:4, he could not have meant Christ accompanied Israel in a literal way. Christ first arrived on the scene many centuries after Israel’s trek in the wilderness.
Paul appears to be thinking in spiritual terms in the passage of Scripture under consideration and as such is seeing Christ as representative of the salvation that was provided to Israel during their journey in the wilderness. His reference to eating spiritual food and drink from the spiritual rock Christ shows the non-literalness of his thoughts as Israel did not literally eat spiritual food and drink and Christ is not a literal rock.
Jesus is not a person of a tri-unity of Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus is a prophet that was prophesied to appear at an appointed time in history and became the savior of mankind in fulfilling all His Father God’s will. Moses, many thousands of years ago, spoke of YHWH, the God of Israel, rising up a prophet like himself (Moses). Moses was not God but an agent of God. Jesus was not God made flesh but, just like Moses, was the human agent of the one and only God who is the Father. Upon completion of His mission, He was awarded great power, authority and glory but remains subservient to the One God, his Father. It is the one and only God who is the ultimate Savior. This God facilitated His salvation through the man Jesus. While Jesus is also called Savior in the NT, He is seen as such within the context of being the facilitator of salvation on behalf of God.
Titus 3:4-6: But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Jude 1:24-25: To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
When NT authors write about God as Savior they are writing about the Father as Savior. Trinitarians acknowledge this and believe God the Father is Savior through the Son in a Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus, however, clearly said the Father is the one and only true God. Paul and John said the same thing (John 5:43-44, 17:3, 1 John 5:20, I Corinthians 8:6, 1Timothy 2:6). If the Father is the one and only true God, then the Father is ultimately the one and only true Savior. The passages cited above clearly identify God (The Father) as Savior in distinction from Jesus who is seen as the facilitator of salvation on behalf of the Father.