The Council of My Nation - Idolatry - Divine Names

A. Divine Names

Let us begin the discussion with those passages that attribute divine names to the Messiah.

Perhaps the most prominent of these is found in Jeremiah 23:6 where the Messiah is called “the Lord is our righteousness”. What can be more clear? There is no question that this passage is talking of the Messianic figure that is the redeemer of Israel, and God calls him by His own holy name! Amazing! But let us take pause. Is the passage indicating that we ought to worship this man? Is the passage telling us that this man shares God’s divine nature? No, not directly. Yet the Christian would argue that with a name like this “the Lord is our righteousness”, how can the Messiah be less than divine? The Jew would argue that the name tells us nothing about the essential nature of the Messiah, it only helps us understand God’s deeds that will be performed in his days and through him. So who is right? Is it the Christian or the Jew?

If this was the only passage in scripture, if we were to find this scrap of Jeremiah on an ancient parchment as the only surviving remnant of literature from the long forgotten civilization of the Jews. If I were to know nothing of the Jews and their scripture but this one line from Jeremiah, I would perhaps be inclined to side with the Christian. It would seem plausible that the author of this one passage believed in a divine Messiah. But I would be dead wrong. Just a few chapters further on in the same book (33:16) we find that God gives the very same name to the city of Jerusalem! Hold on there! Is Jerusalem divine? Should we worship Jerusalem? Perhaps we should nominate the city of Jerusalem as a fourth member in the Christian trinity? It is clear that the Jewish interpretation of the passage is the interpretation vindicated here. The fact that God gives someone a name with divine implications does not make the person or object divine. It only tells us of the deeds God will perform through that individual or through that object.

We find several other objects to whom no-one ever attributed divinity designated with divine names. Genesis 33:20, 35:7, Exodus 17:15, and Judges 6:24 all have various altars being given divine names. Just as we have learned from Jeremiah 33:16, Ezekiel (48:35) also entitles Jerusalem with a divine name. The names of many people throughout scripture are “divine names”. Tzurishadai of Numbers 1:6 translates as “my rock, God”, Joshua is “the Lord’s salvation” and Hezekiah is “the might of the Lord”. These names were never understood to be implying the divinity of these people. They reflect the deeds that God manifested through these people or the deeds that were hoped to be manifested through these people, but these people remain human beings and no worship is to be directed to them. The same would apply to the passage in Isaiah 9:5 where the young Hezekiah is a designated with a list of names. These names tell us nothing about the nature of the man Hezekiah, they only tell us about the miracles God performed through him and in his times.

Originally posted on: https://yourphariseefriend.wor...

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