Yahweh and Jesus – Introduction

Yahweh and Jesus – Introduction

Yahweh and Jesus – Introduction.

This series of articles in the category entitled “Yahweh and Jesus” is based on a conviction of the author that needs to be clearly stated. Jesus is the incarnation of Yahweh. Jesus Christ the Messiah is Yahweh with flesh on. In the mystery of the Trinity, Jesus in the gospels is the same Person as the Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible. If we want to know the character of the mysterious Yahweh, then look at His character being fleshed out in the Jesus of the gospels. Completing the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Love that unites the Father and the Son, Yahweh and Jesus, in their eternal union. “Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being.’ (Heb. 1:1-3).

In the gospels, Jesus considered Himself to be on equal footing with the Hebrew Yahweh. He claimed to be of one essence with Yahweh God. He declared that He shared the divine identity with the Great I AM. When the Epistle writers quoted “Lord” in the Hebrew Bible, they assumed Jesus, they pointed to Jesus as equivalent to Yahweh. In the book of Acts, Peter quoted Joel 2:28 about “the Lord,” and then referred immediately to Jesus. Jesus Himself left little doubt that He was of the same essence as the Father God. In John 14:9, for example, He said that anyone who has seen the Son has in fact seen the Father. And in John 10:30, Jesus flatly declares, “I and the Father are one.” The most compelling gospel proof assuming an equality with Yahweh is His frequent use of the “I AM” formula in His teaching ministry. Jesus clearly referred to Himself with an abbreviated form of Yahweh, YHWH, I AM WHAT I AM. With His many I AM’s, in the Gospel of John alone there are 23 I AM statements by Jesus, He staked His claim to divinity, to equality to Yahweh. Jesus indeed claimed the name of Yahweh as His own. That was outlandish of Him, but it was true. And it got Jesus into a lot of trouble. Somehow, in the impenetrable mystery of the Trinity, the divine Godhead, the Three-in-One, Jesus maintained His distinctive role as the Son, as did the Father. Yet still Jesus was one with Yahweh. Jesus was and is Yahweh.  Referring to one means you are referring to the other. God is spirit, Jesus is flesh, and yet they are so close to each other that somehow they are inside each other as One God, while keeping their unique identities.

“Our Father in heaven, may your Name be kept holy…” (Matthew 6:9).

In Scripture, names are significant because it is a way of revealing the essence of someone, a person’s most intimate identity. Names contain the personal characteristics of that person. They signify the important aspects of that person, the personality, the abilities. For example, when Moses asked God for His name at the Burning Bush in Exodus 3, Moses wasn’t merely concerned with what to call God. Moses wanted to know what His name represented. Moses was asking God, “Who are You?” “Describe Yourself!” “What are You like so I can understand You?”

Jesus is praying here in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) that the magnificent Name of God be kept holy in the minds of the people. May His Name be honored and sanctified, for in honoring His Name, we are honoring who He is. May the Name of the Lord be set apart into a whole different category from other names. May His Name be sacred and hallowed and kept worthy of one-of-a-kind respect and adoration. May His Name be lifted up and held high above all the rest. God’s Name is the accumulation of His greatness, His attributes, His character. Jesus is yearning in His prayer that God’s Name be adored in the holiness that God deserves. God’s Name opens the door to His Personhood and to His divine nature.

That is why it so helpful to learn the biblical Names of God and understand the fulfillment of those names in the Person of Christ. We grow in our understanding of God if we study all these somewhat obscure Hebrew words for God that find their ultimate meaning in Jesus. The truth is that every Name of God highlights an aspect of God’s character and personality, which is fleshed out in Christ. Every Name is an attribute of the God we worship. When we get to know God’s Name, we see Jesus in the flesh. When we are getting to know the names of God, we are beginning to understand Jesus on a more personal level. When we learn how the Gospel accounts fulfill the meaning of God’s names, we become that much more knowledgeable of the Jesus we love.

Yeshua. Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus. It means Yahweh who saves, or LORD to the rescue. Yeshua, or Y’shua, is a common form of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, which translates to Joshua. The name Jesus is actually an English version of the Greek version (Yay-soos) of the Hebrew Yeshua. And since Greek was the common international language used when spreading word about Yeshua, Jesus (Yay-soos) is the name most commonly used. Yeshua is the name most commonly used by Hebrew-speaking Christians in Israel and followers of Messianic Judaism. The name Yeshua represents His Hebrew identity, and anyone who called Jesus by His Hebrew name while He was on earth would have called Him Yeshua.

“The name of Yahweh the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10).

By the time of the Book of Acts in the history of the early church, the Christian believers were using the name Jesus as synonymous with Yahweh. So when they saw the holy name of Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible, they through faith also applied that name to Jesus. Yahweh = Yeshua = Jesus. So the early church would have had no problem saying that, according to the verse above, the name of Jesus is a strong tower.

Jesus told all His listeners that He came, not to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it, to complete it (Matt. 5:17-20). Jesus is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible. He came to deepen our understanding of the Scripture, of God, to reveal the goal and purpose of the Word. Because God’s names in the Hebrew Bible suggest the qualities of God’s character and mission and identity, we can then study the Gospels to see the fulfillment of those names, and how they are fleshed out in the Person of Jesus. For each name of God in the Old Testament, there is a gospel fulfillment of that name in Jesus.