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.
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:
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).
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
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.
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).
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.
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.