Jehovah – Part 3

The first post in this series, “Will the real Jehovah please stand up” discussed how the name of the Father is YHVH. The second post, “Jehovah – Part 2” discussed how Jesus was given the name YHVH by the Father. This post builds off those two posts, so make sure you’ve read them first.

The word of the Lord

The phrase “the word of the Lord” is used often in the scriptures, especially in the Old Testament. The vast majority of the time it means simply something that God has said. But sometimes it talks about a who, not a what.

Genesis 15:1
After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

If the word of the Lord is just words, or even a voice, it wouldn’t come in a vision. You see things in visions. It isn’t only Abraham that saw the word of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3
1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.

Why would you need to have open vision to receive the word of the Lord if it is just a voice? Look a few verses later:

10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

21 And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

Samuel didn’t just hear the voice of the Lord, he also saw something. Just like Abraham, the word of the Lord came to Samuel in a vision. In these instances, the word of the Lord isn’t a verbal message, it is a personage.

Jeremiah records a similar experience:

Jeremiah 1
4
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

If the word of the Lord was just a voice, it couldn’t put forth his hand and touch his mouth. The word of the Lord was a personage.

Here’s an example from Zechariah where the word of the Lord is associated with an personage, in this case called an angel (which means messenger).

Zechariah 1:7-9
Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.

Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.

As we search the Old Testament carefully, we will find instances where the word of the Lord is not simply a voice, but associated with a visible personage.

The Word of the Lord

John 1:1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John teaches that Jesus was the Word and that by him all things were made. Notice how that matches the Old Testament description of the word of the Lord.

Psalms 33:6
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Jesus is the Word of the Lord. With that in mind, let’s play with 1 Samuel 3:21 and focus on the key parts:

the Lord revealed himself … by the word of the Lord.

YHVH revealed himself … by the Word of YHVH.

The Father revealed himself … by the Son.

Notice how this adds a whole new dimension to a familiar story about Elijah.

1 Kings 19
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

The Word of the Lord (Jesus) appeared to Elijah and asked him why he was hiding in the cave. After hearing Elijah’s answer, Jesus told Elijah to head outside to talk directly with the Father. Notice how the same question is asked, and the same answer is given. This doesn’t make sense unless there are two different personages involved.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:

In this experience, Elijah talks with both the Lord (YHVH, the Father) and with the Word of the Lord (the Son).

Ramifications

When reading the Old Testament, we need pay close attention to the surrounding context when we come across the phrase “the word of the Lord.” While many times it will simply refer to something the Lord has said, there are some occasions when it is actually a reference to a divine visitation.

Consider this:

Ezekiel 1:1-3
 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.

and compare it to what Joseph taught

TPJS p. 181
All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself

Is Ezekiel 1:3 making reference to Ezekiel’s calling as a prophet, where he sees the Lord and is ordained by God himself to be a prophet? Do a search and see how many other Old Testament prophets mention the word of the Lord coming unto them. I suspect many of these were more than simple auditory experiences.

This ties is nicely with the scriptural requirements for a prophet.

Jeremiah 23:18,22 (ESV)
For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?

But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.

According to Jeremiah, a prophet needs to stand in the presence of the Lord, and see and hear his word! How do you see a voice? But if we use the substitutions we used earlier, a prophet must see and hear the Son.

Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1-2 both give detailed accounts of their audience with the Lord prior to beginning their prophetic missions. If we had all the records available, I suspect every prophet would have a similar story. In the meantime, we can watch for linguistic shorthand like “the word of the Lord came unto me” to realize a lot more is happening than appears with only a surface reading.

 

10 thoughts on “Jehovah – Part 3

  1. Very interesting. You might have included the Brother of Jared and his visitation by Jesus.

    Something in the Book of Mormon that I would like to better understand is Abinadi’s explanation of how Jesus is both the Father and the Son. Does the Father being Jehovah and Jesus eventually receiving this name as well help in understanding this?

    1. The Bible prophets had visions of God on his throne and the heavenly beings that surround the throne. Lehi sees the same thing in 1 Nephi 1. Alma mentions seeing the same thing in Alma 36. But the rest of Book of Mormon prophets don’t talk about seeing the throne and concourses of angels. Nephi is taken to a high mountain and only sees the Lord and one angel. The brother of Jared also has a one-on-one experience. Did these other prophets also see God on his throne and choose to focus on their one-on-one encounters? Several make reference to God sitting on his throne, so maybe they saw it and it just didn’t make it into the abridgement. It’s something I ponder.

      As for the Father/Son issue, it’s something I’m still trying to sort out. My current explanation is a coin. The Father is heads, the Son is tails. If I show you the coin, but you only see one side, you still say you saw the coin. In fact, if you just want to know if I have enough change to help you pay for something, you don’t care which side of the coin you see – either one represents the coin perfectly. That’s how I’m currently thinking about the Father and the Son. Jesus said in John 14 “he that has seen me has seen the Father”. Modern Mormonism has de-emphasized the oneness of the Father and the Son and overemphasized the separation of them. Yet Jesus and the prophets consistently emphasize that they are one. With the two of them sharing names it becomes complicated if you focus on their separate identities. But if you focus on their oneness, the sharing of names reinforces the oneness. If they aren’t trying to distinguish themselves from each other, maybe we shouldn’t either.

  2. Best explanation of the Christ being the Father and Son is by Avraham Gileadi. I’ll refer you to his writing for the full explanation, but an example of what he teaches can be found in Mosiah 5:7. When the people of Mosiah entered into a covenant with Christ, they became His sons and His daughters, i.e. Christ became their Father. Yet he was still The Son of The Most High God. The priests of King Noah didn’t say Abinadi was worthy of death because he taught that God was both the Father and Son, probably because they were more familiar with covenant theology, but rather because Abinadi taught that God would come down among the children of men, suffer, and then die for His people.

    I am impressed with your insight on God the Father also named Jehovah. Just as we take upon ourselves the name of Christ if we become His sons, so Christ did the same with His Father. Clears up a lot of seemingly confusing verses in the scriptures.

    I would like to hear your ideas on who we pray to. While we are taught specifically to pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, then which Father are we praying to? As mentioned above, if we have a covenant with Christ, then He becomes our Father. And, as the reader mentioned above, if you read Ether 2-3, it seems as though the Brother of Jared is praying\crying unto his Lord, Jesus. In Alma 36:18, it is Jesus Christ that Alma cries out to for relief and forgiveness. As you mentioned in one of your essays, D&C 109, you can now explain Joseph praying to the Father and calling Him Jehovah; however, it still sounds like he is also praying to the Son in versus 1-2, V6 (it was Christ that called them His friends in 84:63 & 77), V22 is the Most High God’s name on us or Christ’s name (same in V79, is he praying for God the Father to put His name on the Church, or for Christ to put His name on the church, since it had been removed in 1834?) 3N 19:22 they pray unto Christ, (but He adds the caveat that they pray unto Him because He is with them).

    While the subject should be straight-forward, I find it to also be one of those subjects that it is too easy to proof-text depending on your initial beliefs.

    1. Gileadi’s insights into suzerain-vassal relationships do a great job demonstrating how human institutions can foreshadow or mimic our relationship with God. From the scriptures, though, it seems that Jesus had this special relationship from before his earthly ministry. (I should probably go back and revise my original post, my understanding has evolved as I have studied it more). While we need to enter into a vassal relationship with the Lord to become one with him, Jesus already was one with God before his ministry.

      Alma 11:38-39 (over 100 years before Jesus was born)
      Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;

      Mosiah 15:1-8 says that Jesus was the Father and Son before he suffered temptations and worked miracles.

      In regards to praying, Jesus taught we pray to the Father. The sacrament prayers in D&C 20 are also directed to the Father. Moroni tells us we should pray to the Father before ordaining someone to an office, or giving the gift of the Holy Ghost. That’s enough witnesses that I feel pretty safe praying to the Father.

      As you point out, 3 Nephi 19:22 “they pray unto me because I am with them.” So if you are in the presence of Jesus, it appears perfectly acceptable to pray directly to him. That might be enough to address the Alma/Ether examples. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I really think the less we distinguish the Father from the Son, the easier things get. Christ is the Father and the Son, so asking the Father to put his name (Christ) on the church can be consistent if we accept oneness.

      I know Christians that pray to Jesus. I don’t think God refuses to listen to them if their heart is sincere. But if we have more scripture than they do that tell us a specific way, he probably expects us to hearken to it.

      If you really want to hedge your bets, pray to Jehovah…then they both have to listen to you! 😉

  3. Yes, I agree Christ was a God before coming to this earth in the flesh, and is the Eternal Father of the heaven and earth. But that shouldn’t eliminate the vassal relationship model with His Father, rather it should lead us to ask, “How did Jesus attain Godhood without having having been through mortal probation?” Seems like an extraordinary risk to give someone power over all things without knowing how they will react to having a little power and physical desires. It becomes fairly obvious that the pre-existence was a lot more than just being intelligences and spirit children all excited to gain an earthly body. If so, then covenants entered into and kept by Eternal Beings are intact throughout eternity, including Father-Son covenants.

    After reading my previous comment, perhaps a better way to state my question would be, “Is God the Father, the Most High God, the only one we should pray to?” Obviously, there are plenty of scriptures that say we should pray to the Father, in the name of Christ. However, there seems to be examples in the scriptures of prophets (people who know God and know His\Their nature) praying directly to the Son. I wonder if we are missing something. And if so, are there certain conditions that must be met before we pray to the Son, who, as you mentioned above, is a God and is the Eternal Father of heaven and earth?” In addition to the previous scriptures, also read Ether 12:36-37.

    1. Gileadi’s theory about how Jesus attained Godhood is both logical and possible. But there are other possibilities as well. And the Lord said “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” So if we’re just speculating – that’s fine. But I’m hesitant to draw conclusions with the current amount of revealed information about what happened before the beginning.

      Yes, some did pray directly to Jesus, no doubt. 2 Nephi 33:6 says “this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh”. That could be a corporate promise, that he would (and did) teach all the Nephites new doctrine when he appeared to them in 3 Nephi. Or it could also be an individual promise, and once he has ministered to you in the flesh you are given instructions to pray to him directly. It hasn’t happened to me yet, so I’m just speculating, but that could explain the valid instances you are pointing out. Because I can’t find any specific conditions that must be met before we pray to the Son (other than being in his presence), I will stick with praying to the Father in the name of the Son until I receive further instructions.

  4. There are several versions of the First Vision. Some have two personages and some have one, have you research the topic with this new insight in mind?

  5. I have reviewed the the other accounts of the First Vision and even included them in the reformatted scriptures. I don’t see contradictions there. In fact, it is quite similar to Old Testament accounts. Let’s take 1 Samuel 3, when Samuel as a young boy has his first encounter with God.

    1 Samuel 3:10
    And YHVH came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

    1 Samuel 3:21
    And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for YHVH revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of YHVH.

    Verse 10 has YHVH standing, denoting a physical, corporeal presence. Yet verse 21 mentions YHVH revealing himself by the Word of YHVH. John 1 clearly identifies Jesus as the Word. So was Samuel visited by one Jehovah, or two? Old Testament writers were very comfortable with the concept of two Jehovahs, and there are several places like this where they are described as being present at the same time.

    Using my coin analogy from a previous comment, in the 1832 account Joseph says “I saw a quarter”. In the 1838 account, he says “I saw the front of the quarter, and I saw the back of the quarter”. Does the second account contradict the first account? No. It merely adds more detail. I see the same thing with God. The Father and the Son are one god. So to say “I saw God” doesn’t require it to mean that he saw only one personage. Later, in 1838, he clarifies that he saw two personages (both sides of the coin).

    I don’t understand your point about John 17:11. What is the issue?

    1. Thanks MD, the translation difference between the KJV of John 17:11 and others is HUGE. Specifically with your insight that YHVH gave his name to his son. Just wondering why or how JS missed it in the JST.

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