Is Jesus God? (Part 1)
Is Jesus God?
This question is the most important one we can ask and answer in our lifetime. If Jesus is God, then everything He does impacts everyone in the world in every imaginable way. However, if Jesus is not God, then nothing He has done impacts anyone in any substantial way. So, how can we know for sure? What historical methods are there for proving that Jesus is or is not the Son of God? Are there credible ancient documents available for our investigation? Are there trustworthy accounts of credible witnesses that can help us know which it is? Did Jesus ever address the question about whether He is God? Did the Apostles believe Jesus is God? Did the early Church believe Jesus is God? The answer to all of these questions is – YES!
The Bible (Old and New Testament) is a compilation of many ancient documents of tremendous credibility (we will go into detail about the Bible’s credentials in a future study). The Bible is also the history of God and His people. Does this historical document offer us any insight into whether Jesus Christ is God? It does in many of the Old Testament Scriptures that foretell the coming of God’s Anointed One – the Messiah of Israel.
The Hebrew Prophet Isaiah wrote – “the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The word Immanuel translates as “God with us.” The Apostle Matthew quoted this verse from Isaiah and added the translation for those who did not speak Hebrew so they would know that Jesus is “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) Isaiah carried this teaching further several paragraphs later as he described a future time when God would send a great light to Israel and increase its joy – “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Notice carefully the names Isaiah said this “Son” would be called – Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The true prophets of God had taught the people of Israel for centuries that there was only One God. Isaiah was involved in fighting against the pagan influences on Israel. So, it seems clear that a prophet of the One God would not have written that the Son of a virgin would be born to lead and govern Israel and be called Mighty God unless He really was the Mighty God.
Keep in mind that the proof of whether a Hebrew prophet was a true prophet of God was whether everything they said was true and everything they prophesied came to pass. If Isaiah’s prophecy about the Son born of a virgin being the Mighty God was not true, then Isaiah was not a true prophet of God. Interestingly, the text for proving true and false prophets is found in a writing of Moses that includes a Messianic prophecy.
“And the LORD said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:17-22
The Hebrew Prophet Daniel saw many visions from God about future events. Many of those events have already come to pass just as Daniel prophesied. Many others are still in the future. In one of those visions, Daniel saw God – The Ancient of Days – judging the “beasts” of the earth (world leaders who opposed God). It was during that vision that Daniel saw the “Son of Man” receive dominion, glory and a kingdom that would never pass away.
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
Daniel was troubled by what he saw in the visions, so he asked an angel of the Lord what it meant. In his answer to Daniel, the angel tells us more about the kingdom that would belong to the Son of Man.
“Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’ ” Daniel 7:27
The angel correlated the future kingdom of the Most High with that of the Son of Man. That is why the religious leaders of Israel were so upset when Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” (scores of times in the Gospels). He was claiming to be the One Daniel saw in his vision – the One Who would rule the everlasting kingdom as the Most High.
We could also reference Genesis 1:26 where God said – “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Even earlier evidences of Jesus being God are found in His relationship to people in the Old Testament. This relationship is often called “Preincarnate” because Jesus is meeting with people prior to His Incarnation (Christ’s Birth to the Virgin Mary). Here are several examples from the Old Testament. Notice in these examples that the Angel of the Lord speaks as God, is recognized as God, and is worshiped as God.
The first example is when the Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar, the servant of Sarai and mother to Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Angel told Hagar to return to Sarai and submit to her and that He would multiply her descendants exceedingly. Here’s what Hagar said about the Angel of the Lord Who spoke to her – “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13) Hagar knew that the Angel Who spoke with her was God.
The next example is when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham as only God could or would – “And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me … By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:12, 16-18)
The Angel of God spoke to Jacob many years later and again referred to Himself as God – “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillarand where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.” (Genesis 31:13)
The Angel of Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire from the middle of a bush. Here’s how Moses described the Angel of the Lord – “God called to him from the midst of the bush … Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Exodus 3:4-6) Clearly, the Angel of the Lord called Himself God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Angel of God Who went before Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 14:19) is spoken of as the One Who would not forgive their sins if they provoked Him (Exodus 23:20-21). The Man Who said He was the Commander of the Lord’s army accepted worship from Joshua and told Israel’s leader to take off his sandals because the place where he stood was holy (Joshua 5:13-15). When the Angel of God ascended to Heaven in the flame of fire after speaking to Samson’s parents, Manoah said to his wife – “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” (Judges 13:22). More evidences of Appearances of Jesus Christ as God in the Old Testament – before His Incarnation revealed in the Gospels.
In our next study, we will look at the evidence of credible witnesses who believed Jesus was God.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”