Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Witnessing to Witnesses [Part 2]

Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the deity of Christ but profess to believe the Bible is the inspired and accurate word of God.

With respect to salvation such theology puts its adherents in danger of eternal separation from God. With respect to the understanding of scripture the position is simply nonsensical, failing to account for and deal with dozens of different ways in which the writers of holy writ specifically equate Jesus with the “Jehovah” the Witnesses claim to worship and call “Father”.

John wrote that the Father has given all judgment to the Son in order that “all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father”.

That’s the aim of this series.

Even if you don’t regularly engage with JWs, you may find the astonishing extent to which scripture parallels Jesus with Jehovah (or YHWH, or in most Bibles, “the Lord”) worthy of consideration.

The structure of and research for this series is the work of a good friend, interspersed with my own running commentary.

I.   New Testament Writers Apply Jehovah’s Names to Christ (cont’d)

5.  “Lord of Lords”

Deuteronomy records this statement about Jehovah:
“For [Jehovah] your God is God of gods and Lord of lords.”
Yet can Paul tell Timothy:
“Keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time — he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Jesus Christ is Lord of lords. As with the other names of Jehovah applied to Jesus by the New Testament writers, this testimony repeats itself:
“They will make war on the Lamb [previously identified in Revelation with the glorified Christ], and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords.”
Again, when we see Christ revealed in battle attire in Revelation 19 with all the armies of heaven following after him, he has this name written on his robe (perhaps signifying outward testimony) and on his thigh (perhaps signifying his inner nature), “King of kings and Lord of lords”.

6.  “The Light”

David said:
“[Jehovah] is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”
and again:
“For it is you who light my lamp; [Jehovah] my God lightens my darkness.”
But John testifies that Jesus is the light not only of the individual believer in time of trouble, but God’s testimony to his own nature:
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
Here, if we may say it reverently, the work of Christ improves upon the work of Jehovah, in that he is a light not only to Jews but to everyone. In order for Jehovah’s characteristic radiant glory to be properly displayed, it was necessary for him to physically enter the world and be seen by it. The life that was the “light of men” shining from the very beginning was revealed in Christ, witnessed and documented for us today.

No words from even the greatest psalmist could ever show us the Light quite the way the gospels do.

7.  “The Holy One”

As he has already done many times in this study, Isaiah once again plays set-up man when he speaks on behalf of Jehovah:
“To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”
Here it is not one of a number of Holy Ones, but a very singular designation. It is also in some cases personal:
“I am [Jehovah], your Holy One”.
But this name is also used of the Lord Jesus — and from a rather unlikely source. Even demons seem able to make the obvious connection JWs seem to have so much trouble with:
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God.”
This truth is repeated for us in Luke 4:34 and John 6:69. Peter may also have had Isaiah’s words in mind when he addressed unbelieving Jews in Solomon’s Portico:
“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.”
Solemn words. To miss out on the clear teaching that Jesus fulfills all that Jehovah is said to be is to miss everything that matters.

8.  “Horn of Salvation”

The idea of a “horn” sounds a bit obscure in our day, but it is an eastern symbol of power going back thousands of years. David, who found no shortage of words with which to praise his God, extols:
“[Jehovah is] … the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
The preamble to the psalm states that David “addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul”. We each have our own reasons to praise him, and our own “enemies” from which we have been saved in different ways, but Zechariah specifically singles out his own son John’s birth as an indication that God was about to bring a “horn of salvation” out of the house of David in the person of the Lord Jesus:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
      for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
      in the house of his servant David.”
In Jewish tradition Joseph’s decision to wed the pregnant Mary signified the legal adoption of Jesus into David’s line, but Zechariah could not have known this only days after the birth of John the Baptist. He looked back to David’s reference to a horn of salvation in the Psalms with only the most general idea of what it would mean.

But his words apply to Jesus more specifically than he knew.

More to Come

This is merely the tip of the iceberg. I think you will find there is little said of Jehovah in the Old Testament that is not specifically applied to Jesus Christ in the New.

As we explore the scriptures, the question of why the leadership of a quasi-Christian cult feels the need to distinguish Jesus from Jehovah becomes more and more pressing.

It certainly isn’t the most natural way to read the word of God.

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