The God-man: Fully God (according to the OT)
The following is an enhanced transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
It’s the story of the ages. The story we find ourselves in: of the God who was there before anything else; who created all things and us in his image to enjoy a soul-surrounding, self-defining relationship with him. But we rebelled against God. And though our rebellion made us worthy of his righteous wrath, God didn’t give us what we deserved. Instead, he promised to send a Messiah to lift us from our fall, restore to us a right relationship with him, and re-establish his righteous reign upon the earth.
It’s a remarkable story, especially because it is true. But what if I clarified a detail of this story that moved it from remarkable to breathtaking? What if I told you that, in promising to send a messiah to save his people from their sins, God was promising that he, himself would come to make all things new. Theologians refer to this beautiful mystery as the “incarnation” or enfleshment of God, in the person of Jesus Christ — who became the one-and-only God-man: perfect God and perfect man; one person existing in two natures, without confusion or compromise of either nature.
This is more than just an interesting theological truth. The fact that God, who had every right to crush us for our rebellion against him, chose instead to become one of us to make us his, not only makes our redemption sure, it confirms God’s good intentions toward us and compels us to trust him with our lives.
In the next four lessons, we’ll see how the Old Testament, together with the words and deeds of Jesus and the apostles affirm that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the one-and-only God-man, Savior-King.
We begin with the testimony of the Old Testament. Speaking of the
Messiah to come, the Prophet, Micah declares,
But as for you, Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah. From you, one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2, NASB)
Here God declares something remarkable about the Messiah to come. Namely, he had already had an everlasting existence. Interestingly, the Hebrew word Micah used to convey that Messiah’s “goings forth” had been from everlasting (from the days of eternity) is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to Yahweh, the one-and-only, eternal God.
For example, in Psalm 90:2, the Psalmist worships Yahweh by declaring, “before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” The implications are obvious and stunning. By claiming the messiah to come possessed the everlasting (eternal) nature of God, Micah affirmed that the Messiah to come was, in fact, God by nature.
We find an even more explicit reference to the deity of the Christ to come in Isaiah 9, where Isaiah the prophet declares of him,
For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)
These titles Isaiah gives to the coming Messiah, especially, “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father,” can only refer to Yahweh, the one-and-only, eternal God. Therefore, with the Prophet Micah, Isaiah declares unequivocally that the Messiah (Christ) to come would possess the nature of the one-and-only, eternal God.
Again in Psalm 45, the author declares the coming Messiah would be God by nature. Specifically, hinting at the doctrine of the Trinity (the fact that God exists in, through, and as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), Psalm 45 declares the eternal Son of God would become the promised Messiah, saying specifically of Him:
Your throne, Oh, God is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, God [referring to the Son of God], your God [referring to God the Father] has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. (Psalm 45:6-7, ESV; comments added in brackets).
Importantly, chapter one of the New Testament Book of Hebrews quotes these verses from Psalm 45 and applies them to Jesus to affirm his divine nature.
In the lesson, we’ll consider how Jesus applied additional Old Testament passages to himself in affirming he is the one-and-only God-man, Savior-King. For now, I invite you to pause and ruminate on the fact that, when God promised to send a Messiah to lift us from our fall and make all things new, he was promising that he would become one of us and suffer immeasurably for us to restore to us a right relationship with him. This not only means our redemption is certain, since God himself has accomplished it for us. It means God’s intentions toward us are immeasurably good, so we can trust him with our lives.