Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Appendix A

The Lord Jesus Christ – The God whose glory the OT saints beheld

Sam Shamoun

This is an appendix to my two-part discussion on Jesus being greater and better than all the members of God’s heavenly host (1; 2).

That neither the Lord Jesus nor John viewed Christ as one of the many created spirit members of God’s heavenly council can be further seen by what the fourth Evangelist does with Isaiah’s vision in which he sees Yahweh seated on his throne.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I SAW THE LORD high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, AND MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE KING, THE LORD ALMIGHTY (YHWH sabaoth).’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.” Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.’” Isaiah 6:1-10

The literal translation of YHWH sabaoth is Yahweh of hosts, with the word hosts referring to God’s heavenly council. The phrase depicts Yahweh as having complete and total authority over all the council members as their sovereign Lord. Hence, the above text leaves absolutely no doubt that Isaiah saw Yahweh in his glory.

However, John quotes Isaiah 6:10 to prove that Isaiah actually saw the glory of the prehuman Christ!

“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because HE SAW JESUS’ GLORY and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:37-46

This means that as far as John is concerned Jesus is the God whom the OT saints and prophets like Isaiah saw. In other words, John’s point is that Christ is none other than the very human manifestation of God, being the visible appearance of Yahweh!

It is therefore no coincidence that in the very same chapter where John claims that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory he then quotes the Lord Jesus as saying that to see him is to see the One who sent him, meaning God the Father, a point which Jesus made on more than one occasion:

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” John 14:6-11

In fact, John even went so far as to say that a person has to turn to Christ if s/he wants to ever see and know God as he truly is:

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:18

Thus, by identifying Jesus as Yahweh God whom Isaiah saw seated on his glorious throne, John is basically confirming that Christ is not simply a heavenly council member. Rather, John portrays Jesus as the God of the entire heavenly host, being the divine Son who rules over all the members of the divine council from God’s very own throne.

Continue with Appendix B: The members of the heavenly council recognize God’s unique Son

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