Polytheism will continue to be brought up by those who are uncomfortable with this subject, and the question is asked: Is the God we worship one God of many gods? Absolutely not—not in a polytheistic sense. One of the basic non-negotiable doctrines of true Christianity is that there is only one all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present GOD. He is the Almighty, and there is only one. He is known by numerous names, but He revealed Himself to Moses as YHWH (or Yahweh). The fact that attempts are made to hide the plain reading of the biblical text using the word elohim only serves to cause confusion. When a reader sees the word “God” in the Scriptures, one immediately thinks of a divine being with the attributes connected to His sovereignty as mentioned above. This is however not how the biblical writer thought about the term. Biblical writers didn’t give a specific set of attributes to the word elohim. Proof of this is in how the Bible uses the word in describing several entities, and they are by no means equal. Consider the examples below:
Yahweh, the God of Israel (used thousands of times)
This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground…Genesis 2:4-5
“To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
The members of God’s council
GOD stands in the congregation of the mighty (elohim); He judges among the gods (elohim)…I said, “You are gods,” and all of you are children of the Most High. Psalm 82:1,6
Gods and goddesses of other nations
“Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess.” Judges 11:24
They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals, that your fathers did not fear. Deuteronomy 32:17
The prophet Samuel, after he was dead
And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit (elohim) ascending out of the earth.” So he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel…1 Samuel 28:13-14
Angels or the Angel of Yahweh
And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God (elohim) appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother. Genesis 35:7
We see in the passages above that the biblical writers used the word elohim many times and for different entities, but that does not mean that they ascribed the same attributes to them all. They were not describing a pantheon of interchangeable deities. To these writers there was no question who Yahweh was, and what they said about Him was never said about another elohim. Examples such as the short passages below make this quite clear.
“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11
“O LORD GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? Deuteronomy 3:24
…and he said: “LORD GOD of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.” 1 Kings 8:23
For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. Psalm 97:9
This is just a sampling of thousands of Scriptures showing that the Biblical writers made a clear distinction between Yahweh, the All-Mighty elohim, and the lesser elohim. The elohim, YHWH, is unique—the only one of a kind.
As we examine Old Testament Scriptures, we continue laying the groundwork that will bring us to a recognition of the scene John the Revelator was shown in Revelation 4 and 5. It seems that there are a great many things in the Holy Scriptures that lead us to this unique divine council.
In Daniel 7, we find a revealing passage. As we are brought closer to the divine council, we are also brought ever closer to the Messiah, Himself. Verses 1-8 present us with a rather peculiar scene. The prophet Daniel was shown four beasts, representing four empires, coming out of the sea of humanity. Each of them were different from the other three, but all powerful in their own right. In verse seven, Daniel was shown a fourth beast, quite different from the other three and described it with these words:
7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. Verses 7-8
Here we have a description of an empire that is to form at the end of the age. This empire, or kingdom, will be led by ten sovereigns, called kings in other passages. Three of these are forcibly removed by a “little horn” who becomes very powerful, eventually forcing most of the world under his dictatorial rule. This is who is represented by several names in the Scriptures, including Antichrist.
In the next verses Daniel describes a scene that we will take a close look at:
9 I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; 10 a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Verses 9-10
There are several things we notice in these two verses. First, this is obviously referring to the God of Israel. The description matches one given by the prophet Ezekiel in verses 26-28 of the first chapter of his prophetic book. Second, there are many thrones set up in heaven, not just one. These thrones are an indication of the presence of the divine council. Third, the council is gathered to decide what is to become of the national empires and what to do with the Antichrist. This is of great significance to what will unfold in the very near days in our generation, but what is most important at this point in our study is the pursuit of the Messiah. This becomes part of what Daniel sees in the next part of his vision:
13 I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Once again, there is much to see in these verses. First, it is obvious that the Ancient of Days (the God of Israel) and the “one like the son of man” are different characters. “Son of man” is a phrase used quite often in the Old Testament. Ezekiel is called this many times in his prophetic book. The phrase means, “human one.” Here in Daniel 7:13, we find someone who appears human coming on or with the clouds to the Ancient of Days. This specific description points to a second deity figure. This brings us back to there being two Yahweh figures, as is the case earlier in the Old Testament.
An unknown fact to most in our generation is that the god Baal was commonly called “the one who rides the clouds” by some of Israel’s neighbors, especially to their north. The reason this is important is that in the Near East, this description was an official title of Baal and to ancients all over the Mediterranean, Jew or Gentile, the “one who rides the clouds” was a deity—therefore his title ranked him as a god.
Israel was constantly getting in trouble with Yahweh for falling into idolatry—usually by worshipping Baal. Old Testament writers then made a point of showing that Yahweh, the God of Israel–the eternal Almighty GOD was to be worshipped, not some demon god, and they partially did this by assigning this description to Yahweh instead of to Baal. Note the examples below:
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun (symbolic name for Israel), Who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. Deuteronomy 33:26
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, Oh, sing praises to the Lord, 33 to Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old! Psalm 68:32-33
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with honor and majesty, 2 Who cover yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. 3 He lays the beams of his upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind, 4 Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire. Psalm 104:1-4
And there are of course more passages along the same line. The one exception, interestingly, is found in Daniel 7:13. Here we have a second figure—a “human” figure—with the same description. Of importance, the one who rides the clouds in Daniel 7:13, receives “everlasting kingship” from the Ancient of Days. Everlasting kingship could only belong to the son of David. We have now added a few more identifiers to the complex identity of the Messiah. The ultimate son of David, the messianic king, will be both human (son of man) and deity (Son of God–the ultimate, Rider of the clouds).
Many theologians will argue that the use of the title “son of man” is not really significant in proving that Jesus was divine. This after all is a common denominator among almost all cult belief systems. There is a refusal to admit the divinity of Jesus Christ. And, this is why I dedicate so much writing time to the subject. One argument opposed to the divinity of Jesus, at least in connection to the term, son of man, is because it is frequently used in the Old Testament in reference to God’s prophets, Ezekiel being one example. This very term being used in Daniel 7:13 however makes it almost impossible to escape that this is referring to Divinity, and namely, the Son of Man, a second Yahweh.
Because of where this study is taking us in Revelation 4 and 5, three passages below in the New Testament will be of importance. These passages make an undeniable connection between the “suffering Messiah” and the “son of man” phrase.
24 “ For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” Luke 17:24-25
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Possibly the most powerful passage is found in Matthew. I have included the entire interchange between the Sanhedrin and Jesus:
57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” Matthew 26:57-66
With a casual reading of this passage, the depth of this interchange might be missed. The Sanhedrin was desperately looking for someone to bring evidence with which to condemn Jesus. They actually failed in this effort. The best they could do was with a couple characters that accused Jesus of having made the claim that he would rebuild the temple within three days if it were destroyed. The whole accusation was of course flawed in that no one even confirmed what “temple” He was referring to. It was just assumed that He meant Herod’s Temple. But, it was enough for Caiaphas to try to destroy Jesus’ credibility. It was then that he asked Him directly, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus’ answer may seem a bit puzzling, but to the Jewish mind, what Jesus said was very direct and his meaning was undeniable. Jesus quoted Daniel 7:13, saying “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the the Mighty One, and coming on the clouds of heaven”, and Caiaphas knew the passage well. He knew that Jesus, in His answer, was claiming to be the second Yahweh in this passage. That is all the high priest needed to give Jesus the death sentence. But, Jesus’ words also provide a clear testimony of Him being the final son of David, Yahweh incarnate (the Son), through whom Yahweh (the Father) will reclaim the nations disinherited at Babel.
For those that may be confused by the fact that there are two Yahwehs mentioned above, I would like to remind us of a passage I have referred to in other articles. For those who are familiar, this psalm is a discussion between the three personages of the Triune God. The Holy Spirit begins the psalm and He also ends it. We find the Father however making this statement to the Son in the middle of this short psalm:
6 “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.7 I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. 9You will break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” Psalm 2:6-9
We have here a decree made by the Father, saying that the nations will be given to Him as His inheritance, and by His power He will bring them into subjection. This in effect is one Yahweh saying that He is working in concert with the second Yahweh to bring the nations back into alignment with their Creator—essentially reversing the disinheritance of the nations at the Tower of Babel.
In Hebrews we find much more on this subject but for the sake of time, we will here only review one small passage, that is actually part and parcel of a much larger subject. Notice what the writer of Hebrews had to say:
8 …to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” 10 And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; 12 like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed, but You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” Hebrews 1:8-12
What the writer of the Hebrews is referring to here is the Anointed One, Jesus the Messiah, the Seed promised to Eve in the Garden, fulfilling what had been prophesied throughout the entire Old Testament. The Messiah had been promised to come, and now He had. What was misunderstood by the Jewish religious leaders is the fact that His coming was split into two arrivals–the first as a suffering Messiah; the second as conquering and reigning God-King—Yahweh in the flesh.
Although the New Testament had not yet been written in Caiaphas’ day, which includes the passage in Hebrews above, the high priest knew exactly what Jesus’ claim was. By quoting Daniel 7:13, He was claiming the identity of the “Son of Man” in that verse who was going to come on the clouds of heaven and was going to be given the everlasting dominion over all nations and tongues–a kingdom that would never end.
To Be Continued in Part Thirteen…