Difficult Scriptures About God and Perfection

 

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Isaiah 45:5, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 8:5. One God? How can we harmonize these scriptures with each other and with Deuteronomy 6:4?

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me” (Isaiah 45:5). Jehovah God is here speaking to Cyrus, a Median general, and letting Cyrus know that He has been strengthening Cyrus for the best interests of Israel. God wants Cyrus to know that there are no other gods that are doing this — but God alone — Jehovah God.

At the time God said there were no gods like Jehovah — immortal and eternal. He alone was the self-existent one, the God of Israel who alone had life within himself at that time (John 5:26). God later gave this property of immortality to his son, Jesus, at his resurrection. (1 Timothy 6:15-16, 1 Corinthians 15:27-28, Hebrews 1:1-4). Thus, God was saying to Cyrus: I, Jehovah, the self-existent, the God of Israel, am equipping you, even though you do not know me. In the KJV notice the italicized words (added by translators).

Remove those words and substitute Jehovah for LORD (Hebrew Strongs #3068, Jehovah, the self-existent or eternal. Compare the ASV and the Modern King James Version which also use Jehovah, as well as the Rotherham that uses Yahweh), and we see that God is saying there is only one Yahweh, or Jehovah, there is none else; there is no other self-existent God beside me. I was the only God that girded or strengthened you, Cyrus, even though you had not known me nor that I was helping you.

It was enough for Cyrus to understand who this Jehovah God was, without confusing the issue, by explaining that God had a son, the Logos, who also was a god (Psalms 110:1). In fact, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 8:5 that there are many gods, i.e. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan as god (theos, deity] of this world; and Exodus 7:1 where Moses was made a god (elohiym), mighty unto Pharoah. But in Isaiah 45, this self-existent God — the Eternal, was a being identified as the God of Israel — the only Jehovah, who was helping Cyrus, even though there were actually many others called gods.

If faithful, Christians will also be given the divine nature: “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (2 Peter 1:4, 1 John 3:2). As divine beings, they will be allied with God to eternity; they will be under Him, not over Him or beside Him. Hence forever, “the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [awesome]” (Deuteronomy 10:17). LMc

Psalm 82:1,6. “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods … I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” How many gods are there? Is it monotheism?

There is only one supreme God, the God of gods (Psalm 136:2. Deuteronomy 10:17). Elohim is used here for both Jehovah and for subordinate gods. Elohim is a generic term of God, gods, or objects of worship. In Psalm 82 it is used for God and gods. Note Deuteronomy 6:4 where Jehovah is called both elohim and one, implying that elohim can be applied in a singular sense. Jesus is chief among these subordinate gods, as witnessed in Hebrews 1:9 and Psalm 45:7. Note in 1 Corinthians 8:6 that God is the source of all things and Jesus, even during his angelic life, was the means of all things.

Satan is also called a god (2 Corinthians 4:4). Psalm 95:3 implies that angels are subordinate gods, and in Isaiah 6:2 and 37:16 is a suggestion that a hierarchy exists among them, with angels of rank such as Cherubim and Seraphim. The Jews were also called gods by Jesus because they possessed the word of God (John 10:34-35). Also, there are the angels/saints of Revelation 14:1, Matthew 25:31, Zechariah 14:5, and Jude 14, who could be considered gods, for as we see by usage, the term god can simply apply to anyone with great power. Understanding this concept is important in helping those who are dogmatic in Trinitarian belief by presenting a Biblical perspective of the true nature of God. This understanding seems conducive to making one’s election sure (Revelation 20:4). RD

Editor’s note: “Jehovah your God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty” (Deuteronomy 10:17 ASV) shows that Biblical monotheism allows for harmonious subordinate gods, such as are the 144,000 Bride of Christ.

Genesis 1:26-27, 5:1. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Genesis 1:26-27). “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him” (Genesis 5:1). In Genesis 1:27 the “likeness” is absent, while in 5:1 the “image” is absent. So, was man created in God’s image? or in God’s likeness? or both?

Adam and Eve were initially created in God’s image — to be able to reason and distinguish right from wrong. When they sinned,
they became like God in the sense they came to understand evil [misfortune] as well as good; but the image of God was now marred (Genesis 3:22, 5:1). The 7th “day” of creation will not end until the thousand-year Kingdom of Christ has restored the “image of God” in mankind; so people will have both image and likeness. “He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). JP

Genesis 2:2. Why did God need to rest
on the 7th day?

In Israel’s observance of the seventh day Sabbath to refrain from its normal labors (Exodus 20:11), it never fully entered into its Sabbath rest due to a lack of faith. Moreover, the nation did not believe that God would give it the promised land, due to the evil report from the spies of giants in the land that could not be conquered. To the contrary, the Lord’s people are admonished to have faith in God to enter the heavenly Canaan of rest by obeying His instructions. In God’s case, it was not that He needed rest, but He paused creative works to teach mankind the consequences of sin. His rest day lasts 7000 years from dealing with His mundane creation while the other features of His plan are worked out. This rest was needed for man’s sake, not God’s. BrM

Editor’s note: In another sense, God rested for just four thousand years before beginning work on His “New Creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God does not weary, but a pause was in His plan.

Genesis 6:6-7. How can God repent when he does not sin?

The Hebrew word for repent means to grieve, or to change one’s mind or course of action (as in Psalm 110:4). Because it is impossible for God to change His mind, it seems to follow that He changed His course of conduct in dealing with mankind. Due to wickedness, God’s changed course of conduct resulted in
the destruction of humanity during the flood, except for Noah and his family. Accordingly, God did not alter His plan of salvation for mankind, for it was always his intent to recover
humanity from death through the sacrificial blood of His beloved Son. BrM

Exodus 6:3. How can God introduce Himself to Moses the first time ever as Jehovah if in Genesis 14:22 (ASV) Abram had already sworn unto Jehovah God most high? Is it appropriate to call Him only the LORD?

There is more than one plausible answer: (a) Moses wrote (or edited) Genesis; so Moses chose the wording for the description of God Most High.

(b) By the mighty deeds God did for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He was known to them as El Shaddai (God Almighty). But Jehovah — likely meaning, Future Being — had never been so manifest as when He brought the nation out of Egypt by the millions, and then into the promised land. (E.g., Amplified Bible)

(c) God is not making an assertion but posing a rhetorical question: “By my name Jehovah was I not known to them?” (An allowable translation)

Comment: The name Jehovah (YHWH, YaHaVaH, or Yahweh) was known not only to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but also to Abraham’s servant, to Laban and Bethuel, and to Rebekah (Genesis 24:12,27, 24:31,50, 25:22-23). The name, Jehovah, is used about 164 times in Genesis, long before Moses was born.

The name and titles of God include:
Jehovah (YHWH, or similar; Future Being; about 6960 times, before 134 alterations by the Sopherim)
Jah (Yah; Future, Continuing, or Eternal; 49 times)
God (El, Eloh, Elohim; Mighty One(s); 238, 94, 2602 times)
Lord (Adonai; Master; 434 times) God Most High (El Elyon; 28 times) God Almighty (El Shaddai; 7 times)

To be strictly correct, we should think of the meanings of these names and titles. If emphasizing God as the possessor and/or manager of everything, “Lord” is appropriate. When
emphasizing power, destruction of evil and/or deliverance from oppression, “God” is better. To emphasize continuing existence and eternal life, “Jehovah” is best.

The name “Yahweh” appears in the Bible about twice as often as all other titles combined. (The Name is holy and should be spoken gently and reverently.) Yet each name or title is
used where appropriate. If anyone is offended because “Jehovah” is used only infrequently, the Christian may use it more frequently. If someone else is uneasy because “Jehovah” is used at all, “Yahweh” may be fittingly used. “LORD” might be understood in print, but is ambiguous when spoken and is
better replaced by “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” JP

John 1:18 (NASB). “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained him.” How could Jesus be an only begotten god?

The word “god” here is from the Greek word theos, which, like the Hebrew elohim, can refer to any dignitary, including God himself, angels, Jesus, or even on occasion to humans of
rank and authority. Strong’s Concordance defines the word (G2316) as “A deity, especially (with 3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism, very.”

If this word can describe a magistrate, then it can describe Jesus, and it is so used six times in the New Testament (John 1:1, 18, 20:28, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1). It is
used in John 10:35 of the worshippers of Jehovah. Once it even refers to Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The word G3588 that Strong refers to in his definition, is the definite article ho, “the.” In English, in addition to the definite article “the,” we have two indefinite articles, “a” and “an.” Greek does not use an indefinite article. Therefore, if one wishes to distinguish between “the God,” Jehovah, and “a god,” such as the Logos, one can do this by using ton theon (genitive masculine for ho theos), and simply theos. This is done in the famous text, John 1:1.

In John 1:18 (in the better manuscripts, as supported in footnote 16 in the RVIC, accessible on the Herald website), John described Jesus as the “only begotten god,” rather than
as in the common version, “only begotten son.” Either expression is agreeable, for “only begotten son” is used for Jesus in the famous text of John 3:16. But it is particularly helpful in John 1:18, for John has already described Jesus as the logos, as a theos of high order, and in John 1:14 he was described as “the only begotten of the Father.” Thus, the expression “only begotten god” combines both descriptions, and clearly distinguishes between the Father (Jehovah), and the Son (Jesus) as two distinct, mighty beings. DLR

Romans 9:13, 18, 21-22, Malachi 1:2-4. How can God love Jacob but hate Esau?

Jacob and Esau were twin brothers, born to Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21-27). Although Esau was the eldest and thus entitled to the blessing of the first-born, he did not appreciate the promise and covenant of God, made first to their grandfather Abraham and confirmed to their father Isaac (Genesis 22:16-18; 26:2-5). Jacob showed his great appreciation
of this promise and covenant, and Esau his disregard for it, when Jacob purchased it from Esau for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34). This led God to love Jacob more. God loved Esau less, the extended meaning of the Greek word miseo translated “hated” in Romans 9:13.

The apostle Paul explains God’s favor to Jacob over Esau because Jacob’s faith was replicated in His favoring Jesus’ followers over the Jewish nation — because the Christians accepted Jesus as the Messiah by faith. The Jewish nation became the “vessels of wrath” because of their rejection of Jesus and thus, they were broken off from becoming the spiritual heirs of the Abrahamic promise (“root of the olive tree”) (Romans 9:22 NASB; 11:17 NASB). Meanwhile, the individual Jews and Gentiles who accepted Jesus and came into Christ through faith became “vessels of mercy” and are grafted into the Abrahamic promise (Romans 9:23 NASB; 11:17). “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to [the Abrahamic] promise” (Galatians 3:29 NASB). EK

Isaiah 45:7. “I form the light and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.” How can the incorruptible God create evil?

Our scripture comes from the King James translation, the most commonly read and quoted version. To begin our investigation, we must look to other Bible translations to make our comparison. We will look at two of the most-recognizable
and accurate translations. The New American Standard reads:
“The one forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity: I am the LORD who does all these.”
Our next comparable translation is Rotherham: “I am Yahweh, and there is none else: Forming light, and creating darkness, making prosperity, and creating misfortune — I — Yahweh who doeth all these.”

Going back to our original question, “How can the incorruptible God create evil? The common definition of evil (adjective) is: “morally wrong, immoral, wicked.” In 1 John 1:5 we read, “that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Therefore it stands to reason that God does not create such evil! But the common definition of evil (noun) is: Anything
that causes displeasure, injury, pain, suffering, etc. The proper rendering would come from Rotherham, which states, “Forming light, and creating darkness, making prosperity, and making misfortune.” These traits God uses to teach and train mankind. Rotherham, then, is the better translation. God is love, not wicked (Strongs 7451), as might be mistakenly inferred from the King James Version.

(See also Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 1, page 125 footnote.) AKH

 

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