Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus Christ – The One Lord Revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Yahweh is the only God worthy of worship

The following verses encapsulate and sum up what God expects and desires of his people:

"Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh. You must love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength… Yahweh your God is the one you must fear, him alone you must serve, his is the name by which you must swear. Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13 New Jerusalem Bible

Israel had to acknowledge Yahweh alone as the God who was worthy of their unconditional and undivided love and devotion. They were forbidden from having any other god besides Yahweh.

The Lord Jesus himself quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5 when asked what was the greatest of all commandments:

“One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, “HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.” The second is this, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ And the scribe said to Him, ‘Right, Teacher, You have truly stated that HE IS ONE; AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.” Mark 12:29, 32

The Lord even cited Deuteronomy 6:13 in his confrontation with the Devil when the latter asked Christ to worship him:

“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.”’” Luke 4:5-8 – cf. Matthew 4:8-10

Who exactly is Yahweh according to the New Testament?

Anti-Trinitarian groups who deny Jesus’ identification as Yahweh argue that the NT testifies that the Father is Yahweh, and therefore the God spoken of in the Old Testament.

For instance, Jesus says that the Father who sent him is the only true God:

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’” John 17:1-3

And since the OT writings testify that Yahweh is the true God,

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.” Jeremiah 10:10

This means that the Father must be Yahweh, otherwise he could not be the only true God if he wasn’t.

These groups also appeal to texts where the Father is said to be the one God, or where the Apostles proclaim that it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who raised up Jesus:

“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.” Acts 3:13

“Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him…” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6a

one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph. 4:6

These passages seem to suggest that it is the Father whom the inspired NT writers identify as Yahweh and therefore as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Anti-trinitarians even appeal to noted Evangelical Christian scholar Murray J. Harris to support their case. After stating that, “When (ho) theos is used, we are to assume that the NT writers have ho pater in mind unless the context makes this sense of (ho) theos impossible,” Harris writes:

112. A related question demands brief treatment. To whom did the NT writers attribute the divine action described in the OT? To answer “the Lord God” (YHWH elohim = LXX kyrios ho theos) is to beg the question, for the authors of the NT wrote of OT events in the light of their Trinitarian understanding of God. A clear distinction must be drawn between what the OT text meant to its authors and readers and how it was understood by the early Christians who lived after the advent of the Messiah and the coming of the Spirit. Certainly the person who projects the Trinitarian teaching of the NT back into the OT and reads the OT through the spectacles of the dynamic or Trinitarian monotheism of the NT is thinking anachronistically. On the other hand, it does not seem illegitimate to pose a question such as this: To whom was the author of Hebrews referring when he said (1:1), “At many times and in various ways God spoke in the past to our forefathers through the prophets”? That it was not the Holy Spirit in any ultimate sense is evident from the fact that in neither the OT nor the NT is the Spirit called “God” expressis verbis. And, in spite of the fact that the LXX equivalent of YHWH, viz., kyrios, is regularly applied to Jesus in the NT so that it becomes less a title than a proper name, it is not possible that ho theos in Heb. 1:1 denotes Jesus Christ, for the same sentence (in Greek) contains “(the God who spoke...) in these last days has spoken to us in a Son (en huio).” Since the author is emphasizing the continuity of the two phases of divine speech (ho theos laleseselalesen), this reference to a Son shows that the one who speaks in both eras and huios as his final means of speaking shows that in the author’s mind it was not the Triune God of Christian theology who spoke to the forefathers by the prophets. That is to say, for the author of Hebrews (as for all NT writers, one may suggest) “the God of our fathers,” Yahweh, was no other than “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (compare Acts 2:30 and 2:33; 3:13 and 3:18; 3:25 and 3:26; note also 5:30). Such a conclusion is entirely consistent with the regular NT usage of ho theos. It would be inappropriate for elohim or YHWH ever to refer to the Trinity in the OT when in the NT theos regularly refers to the Father alone and apparently never to the Trinity. Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 1998], I. Introduction: Theos in the New Testament, p. 47; bold emphasis ours)

In this article we are going to examine the NT writings to show that, contrary to the assertions of the anti-Trinitarians, Jesus is identified as Yahweh God. In fact, the NT documents identify Jesus as the one Lord of Deuteronomy 6:4, while identifying the Father as the God that is mentioned in that passage. This means that the NT reformulates Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (also known as the Shema) in such a way so as to include both the Father and the Son together within the identity of the one God of Israel.

Who Exactly Is David’s Lord?

It is not a coincidence that, right after referring to Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Jesus immediately went on to quote king David testifying that the Messiah is Lord:

“And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, ‘How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself said in the Holy Spirit, “THE LORD (kyrios) SAID TO MY LORD (to kyrio mou), ‘SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.’” David himself calls Him “Lord” (kyrion); so in what sense is He his son?’ And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.” Mark 12:35-37

Christ cites Psalm 110:1 to show that David himself recognized that the Messiah is his exalted Lord who sits enthroned over all his enemies at Yahweh’s right hand.

Jesus’ point is obvious. If the Messiah is merely a human descendent of David then he could not be David’s Lord; he is obviously much more than a mere human being. However, the Messiah cannot be an exalted angelic creature since the NT teaches that the Christ is vastly superior to all the angels, and that created angelic beings do not sit on God’s throne since they are servants who minister to God’s elect:

“After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty. And so, the Son became so much greater than the other messengers, such as angels, that he received a more important title than theirs. After all, when did God ever say to any of the angels: You are my Son. Today I have become your Father? Or, even, I will be his Father, and he will be my Son? But then, when he brought his firstborn into the world, he said, All of God’s angels must worship him. He talks about the angels: He’s the one who uses the spirits for his messengers and who uses flames of fire as ministers. But he says to his Son, God, your throne is forever and your kingdom’s scepter is a rod of justice. You loved righteousness and hated lawless behavior. That is why God, your God, has anointed you with oil instead of your companions. And he says, You, Lord, laid the earth’s foundations in the beginning, and the heavens are made by your hands. They will pass away, but you remain. They will all wear out like old clothes. You will fold them up like a coat. They will be changed like a person changes clothes, but you stay the same, and the years of your life won’t come to an end. When has he ever said to any of the angels, Sit at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet like a footstool? Aren’t all the angels ministering spirits who are sent to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:3-14 Common English Bible (CEB)

According to Hebrews, God has never told any of the angels to sit at his right hand; and yet this is precisely what he has invited the Messiah to do.

Since the Messiah is more than a human descendent of David, and yet is not an angelic creature, then there is only one kind of being left for him to be. The Messiah is God!

In fact, let us compare the language employed by Jesus in both Mark 12:29 and 37:

“Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, “HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD (Akoue, ‘Israel, kyrios ho theos hemon kyrios heis estin).”’”

“David himself calls Him ‘Lord’ (kyrion); so in what sense is He his son?”

It is obvious that Jesus is pointing out that the same Scriptures which testify that there is only one Lord also identify the Messiah as that very Lord. After all, David was an Israelite who knew that the Lord is one. Jesus wanted to show that he, as the Messiah, is David’s Lord and therefore God in the flesh.

The following scholar does a better job of bringing out the purpose and significance of Jesus quoting Psalm 110:1 right after having just recited the Shema:

“… The messianic kyrios refers unambiguously to Jesus. But the psalm also mentions another kyrios, the God of Israel. The figures who elsewhere in Mark are linked to kyrios are thus now each referred to as kyrios. Furthermore, these kyrioi probably share the divine throne. This seems to confirm our previous observations. There is an overlap between the figures through the word kyrios, but there is also a differentiation which here is reinforced by the presence of two figures designated kyrios. As elsewhere (e.g., 2.28; 11.9), the second, messianic kyrios also shares divine prerogatives or attributes with the first kyrios—the divine throne.

The presence of two kyrioi on the divine throne in 12.35-37 is the more striking in the light of the fact that it follows immediately upon the citation of Deut. 6.4, the Shema (12.29), which stresses the existence of only one kyrios. The juxtaposition of these two seemingly contradictory passages, which both cite the Scriptures, requires an explanation. The Shema is obviously not, in Mark’s view, incompatible with the existence of two figures, both designated kyrios, on the divine throne. But how is the relationship to be understood?

“Marcus argues that the Shema serves to ward off ‘any misunderstanding of Ps 110.1 in the sense of bitheism’ (1993: 145)… Second, the citation of the Shema, undoubtedly implies that mono­theism is maintained by Mark; the question is how does he understand monotheism? Marcus argues that Mark intends the Shema to correct Ps. 110.1 and subordinate Jesus to God so that God’s oneness is not threatened. But it is possible that it is the other way around, that the second passage corrects the first. In other words, Ps. 110.1 defines the correct understanding of the Shema and reinterprets monotheism. I submit that what Mark does by juxtaposing these two OT texts finds its closest analogy in 1 Cor. 8.6, where Paul seems to adapt the Shema so that ‘The Lord, our God, the Lord is one’ becomes ‘There is one God (the Father) and one Lord (Jesus Christ)’. The Shema is reinter­preted so that the one God and Lord now embraces two figures: God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark has a similar purpose with his linking of Ps. 110.1 to Deut. 6.4, but instead of splitting ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ between two persons, Mark brings in an OT text which portrays two kyrioi. Furthermore, he puts all emphasis on kyrios. This reinforces the complex view of kyrios found throughout Mark; there is one kyrios, and yet two figures, God and Jesus, share this name and title. The one title kyrios appears to guarantee the oneness of the kyrios. This, in Mark’s view, does not compromise monotheism, but certainly reinterprets monotheism so that Jesus is included on the divine side of the God–creation divide.” (Daniel Johansson, “Kyrios in the Gospel of Mark,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament [2010 33: 101, DOI: 10.1177/0142064X10380130], pp. 117-119; bold emphasis ours)

Here is a brief recap to help bring out the implications of Jesus’ purpose in citing the words of David in Psalm 110:1 right after having just quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5:

The Scriptures testify that Israel’s Lord is one.

The prophet David identifies the Messiah as his Lord.

However, David was an Israelite and therefore knew that the Lord is one.

This means that David must have known by inspiration from the Holy Spirit that the Messiah is God.

Loving the Lord Jesus with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength!

There is further corroboration that Jesus was identifying himself as the one Lord referred to in the Shema itself. The Lord demanded that his followers love him unconditionally, i.e. all believers must love Christ more than anything, even more than their very own lives:

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39

“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’ And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for MY SAKE and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

This is precisely the kind of love and devotion which the Shema reserves for Yahweh alone, i.e. such unconditional love and wholehearted devotion can and should only be given to Yahweh.

The Lord Jesus also claimed that everyone must give him the same exact honor that they render to the Father:

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23

Again, this is a devotion and love which Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and 13 reserve for Yahweh alone. The only way that Jesus could demand such love and worship is if he actually thought that he was(is) Yahweh God incarnate. Otherwise, Jesus would be guilty of blaspheming God and of endorsing idolatry.

Yahweh’s Feet Descend Upon The Mount!

According to the prophet Zechariah, a day shall come where the entire earth will come to recognize and confess that Yahweh is the one and only:

“And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall Jehovah be one, and his name one.” Zechariah 14:9 American Standard Version (ASV)

Here is how the Greek version renders this verse:

“the Lord (kyrios) shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord (estai kyrios heis), and his name one,” LXX

Thus, the whole world shall know that there is only one Lord and King, namely Yahweh.

Zechariah says that this will take place when Yahweh comes with all of his holy ones and descends upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem:

“Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day HIS FEET will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.” Zechariah 14:1-8

What makes this prophecy rather amazing is that, according to the NT, it is Jesus who will actually descend on the Mount of Olives on the day he returns from heaven with his holy ones in order to judge the wicked and save the faithful:

“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.” Acts 1:9-12

“so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13

“and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (kai apo tes doxes tes ischuos autou), when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day (hotan elthe endoxasthenai en tois hagiois autou), and to be marveled at among all who have believed (kai thaumasthenai en pasin tois pisteusasin)—for our testimony to you was believed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

In this last text, Paul has taken language used in the OT in reference to Yahweh and applied it directly to Christ!

For instance, it is Yahweh who comes in flaming fire to judge the wicked and to reveal the glory of his might:

“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” Isaiah 66:15-16

“Now therefore enter ye into the rocks, and hide yourselves in the earth, for fear of the Lord, and by reason of the glory of his might (kai apo tes doxes tes ischuos autou), when he shall arise to strike terribly the earth... And every man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall fall: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And they shall hide all idols made with hands, having carried them into the caves, and into the clefts of the rocks, and into the caverns of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and by reason of the glory of his might (apo tes doxes tes ischuos autou), when he shall arise to strike terribly the earth. For in that day a man shall cast forth his silver and gold abominations, which they made in order to worship vanities and bats; to enter into the caverns of the solid rock, and into the clefts of the rocks, for fear of the Lord, and by reason of the glory of his might (apo tes doxes tes ischuos autou), when he shall arise to strike terribly the earth.” Isaiah 2:10, 19-21 LXX

Yahweh is also the one who is glorified and held in wonder among his holy ones:

God is glorified in the council of the saints (ho theos endoxazomenos en boule hagion); great and terrible toward all that are round about him. Psalm 88:8 [Eng. 89:7] LXX

God is wonderful in his holy places (thaumastos ho theos en tois hagiois autou), the God of Israel: he will give power and strength to his people: blessed be God. Psalm 67:36 [Eng. 68:35] LXX

Paul also says that the Lord Jesus will slay the lawless one by the breath of his mouth:

“Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth (to pneumati tou stomatos autou) and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;” 2 Thessalonians 2:8

The language used here is identical to the following Psalm:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth (to pneumati tou stomatos autou). Psalm 32[Eng. 33]:6 LXX

Hence, the same Lord who created the heavenly host by the breath of his mouth will also destroy the lawless one by that very same breath!

In light of the above, it is clear that the NT depicts Jesus as the Lord whom Zechariah saw descending with all his saints upon the Mount of Olives, and splitting it in half when his feet land upon it. This means that Jesus is the Yahweh who comes to rule over the entire earth as King.

Thus, it is Jesus whom all the nations will someday acknowledge and worship as the one Yahweh!

We are still not through with Zechariah yet, since this blessed prophet has a lot more to say concerning Yahweh that directly ties in with the NT depiction of the Lord Jesus.

Yahweh Gets Pierced

The prophet Zechariah foresaw the time when Israel would mourn for having committed the sin of piercing Yahweh!

The word of Yahweh concerning Israel: Thus says Yahweh, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: ‘Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will come together against it. On that day,’ says Yahweh, ‘I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But upon the house of Judah I will open my eyes, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through Yahweh of hosts, their God.” On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they shall devour to the right and to the left all the peoples round about, while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem. And Yahweh will give victory to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over that of Judah. On that day Yahweh will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of Yahweh, at their head. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on Me whom they have pierced (wehibbtu elay et asher-daqaru), they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrim'mon in the plain of Megid'do. The land shall mourn, each family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shim'e-ites by itself, and their wives by themselves; and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves. In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.’” Zechariah 12:1-3, 7-14; 13:1

According to the NT, this was partially fulfilled when God the Father sent forth his very own Firstborn, his one and only Son, to die for the sins of his people on the cross:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18 ESV

“But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.’” John 19:34-37

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh… For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:3, 29-32

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:13-15

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU’? And again, ‘I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME’? And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.’” Hebrews 1:1-6

The NT also states that the rest of the prophecy will be realized when the Lord Jesus returns from heaven, whereby all the tribes of the earth will mourn when they see the one they had pierced:

“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” Revelation 1:7

Suffice it to say, not everyone is comfortable with a prophecy that says Yahweh will be pierced through. It seems that scribes had major difficulties with this verse since some of them changed the text so as to make it refer to someone other than Yahweh being pierced. However, the majority of Hebrew manuscripts, ancient translations, and early witnesses confirm this reading, just as the following scholar admits:

In this disputed section the majority of the Hebrew MSS read… (wehibbtu elay et asher-daqaru), “they will look to Me, the one they have pierced through.” A few, however, read… (eley et asher), “to the one whom,” etc., employing the poetic form of the preposition… Other Hebrew MSS, however, reflect a vorlage that requires a rendering, “they will look on Me in place of him whom they pierced.” The end result is that it is not YHWH who is pierced but someone else. Clearly the notion of YHWH being subjected to such a highly anthropomorphic conception was more than some devout scribes could countenance. The Hebrew evidence overwhelmingly favors the traditional reading of the MT.

There is no textual reason, then, for rejecting the reading, “they will look to Me, the one they have pierced through.” The difficulty lies, therefore, in the hermeneutical and theological aspects of the question. As to the former, the passage clearly teaches that YHWH (the speaker throughout in the absence of clues to the contrary), having poured out the spirit of grace leading to the people’s supplications, will be seen by them as having been pierced by them. This will cause the people to break out in lament for Him, the one over whom they will grieve as they would over the death of a first-born son.

It is immediately apparent that the shift in pronoun from “they will look to Me” to “they will lament for him” is at the crux of the matter. If YHWH has been pierced through, who is the “him” who is being lamented? Or, to put it another way, why should the lament not be for YHWH, the one who has been pierced through? It is questions like these, of course, that gave rise to the textual options adduced above.

The most satisfying resolution, it seems, is to admit of a change in pronoun as a grammatical, stylistic feature without a change of the subject. That is, it is YHWH throughout who is describing the situation, and it is He who is the subject at every point. It is He who has been pierced and He whom His people, having come to their senses as to what they have done, mourn in repentance. From YHWH’s viewpoint it is “Me” that is the focus; from the standpoint of the people it is “Him.” Such a transition from one person to another is not at all uncommon in Hebrew composition, especially in poetic and prophetic language (GKC 144p). (An Exegetical Commentary - Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, by Eugene H. Merrill, M. Phil., Ph.D., Zechariah - Part 4 Oracle Concerning Israel (12:1-14:21); bold emphasis ours)

The following Reformed scholar concurs:

“Some scholars, however, are not content to take the passage as it stands but make every conceivable effort to evacuate the passage of any and all references to the Messiah and his deity. These efforts begin, not surprisingly, with the expediency of textual emendation. Despite the fact that the original Hebrew of 12:10 clearly reads ‘they will look unto me’ and has the support of the large MAJORITY of reliable Hebrew manuscripts, the LXX, the Old Latin, the Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, the Aramaic Targums, and the Greek versions of Aquilla, Symmachus, and Theodotion, some scholars and modern versions such as the Revised Standard Version, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and Moffat’s version, have chosen to follow a MINORITY of unreliable Hebrew manuscripts and have changed the ‘unto me’ to ‘unto him’… Now the presence of the third-person pronoun in the following phrase is factual enough, but it is not a conclusive argument that the former first-person reference must be emended to harmonize with it.

“I say this on three grounds: first is the fact that the reading ‘unto me,’ as we have already noted, is supported by the VAST MAJORITY of ancient witnesses; second the ‘unto me’ is by far the harder reading. That is to say, it is readily conceivable why a scribe would alter ‘unto me’ to read simply ‘unto,’ but it is not readily apparent why a scribe would change the simple ‘unto’ to ‘unto me.’ Even though he himself prefers the easier reading and accordingly emends the text, H.G. Marshall acknowledges the arbitrary character of his choice when he writes:

The point may… be made, and, in fact, has been made… that [‘unto]’ is the easier reading; hence it is more probable that it is an error for [‘unto me’] than vice versa. There is great force in this objection. Indeed, it so weakens the case for [‘unto’] that those who feel the incongruity of the Massoretic text will have to resort to emendation.

“And third, the shift from the first to the third person may be an instance of either the common enallage (a grammatical change) of verbal number frequently met with in the speeches of Yahweh (see the many instances where Yahweh, as the first person speaker, refers to himself in a given speech in the third person as Yahweh) or the differentiation-identity pattern we have already had occasion to note for the reader (see Zech 2:10-11; MT, 2:14-15) in which the Messiah is both personally identified with God and yet, at the same time and in the same context, distinguished from him.” (Robert L. Reymond, Jesus: Divine Messiah – The New and Old Testament Witness [Christian Focus Publications, Scotland 2003], Part One: The Old Testament Witness, 2. The Old Testament Witness to the Messiah, pp. 145-146; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In responding to the Jehovah’s Witnesses distortion of this passage, noted Evangelical scholar and apologist Ron Rhodes writes:

“Here is the critical point: In the New American Standard Bible, it is Yahweh (or Jehovah) who is speaking in this verse, and it is therefore Jehovah who says, ‘They will look on Me whom they have pierced.’

Obviously this means that Jesus is Jehovah… Granted there is some debate over how this verse should be translated. Following are what I consider to be the most important considerations:

“First, foundationally, it is very clear that Yahweh or Jehovah is the speaker in this verse. In fact, verses 2 through 12 are a single discourse tied to the ‘Thus declares the LORD [Yahweh]’ (NASB) in verse 1…

“Third, assuming the correct translation has Jehovah saying ‘they will look on Me whom they have pierced,’ the New Testament portrays this verse as being fulfilled in the person of Jesus (see Revelation 1:7, where Jesus is the ‘pierced’ One), thereby lending support for the idea that Jesus is Jehovah (or Yahweh). However, a problem emerges with a cross reference, John 19:37, which reads, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced,’ seemingly lending support to the ‘on him’ rendering of Zechariah 12:10, which would remove the Jehovah-Jesus connection. It seems a complicated problem to solve.

“My studied opinion is that the English Standard Version clarifies things rather nicely. More specifically, the ESV renders the relevant portion of the verse, ‘When they look on me, on him whom they have pierced’ (emphasis added). This is not too unlike the NET Bible rendering: ‘They will look to me, the one they have pierced’ (emphasis added). Similarly, the New International Version renders it, ‘They will look on me, the one they have pierced’ (emphasis added). Since Jehovah is the one doing the speaking, it is clear in these translations that Jehovah Himself is the One who is pierced, thereby drawing the connection between Jehovah and Jesus.

“I can make one further observation. New Testament scholars have long emphasized that New Testament quotations of the Old Testament (as in John 19:37) are often loose quotations, with little or no attempt at being exact. A change of pronoun (from ‘me’ to ‘him’) is no big deal in the Hebrew mindset. To illustrate, consider Psalm 68:18, where we read, ‘When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train…’ (emphasis added). In Ephesians 4:8 the apostle Paul quotes this verse, but renders it with different pronouns: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train…’ (emphasis added). Paul felt free to change pronouns without fear of doing injustice to the Word of God. I suggest the same is true of John 19:37.” (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses [Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR 2009], 3. The Christ of the New World Translation, pp. 81-83; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that according to Zechariah 12:10, it is Yahweh who shall be pierced, thereby further confirming that Jesus is indeed Yahweh God since he is the One who was pierced on the cross and therefore perfectly fulfills this prophecy.

This means that Jesus is the one Lord spoken of in both Deuteronomy 6:4 and Zechariah 14:9. In fact, as we shall see in the next section, the NT directly applies the very language of these specific texts to Jesus Christ himself.

We have now come to the conclusion of the first part of our discussion.  Please continue with Part 2.