Another OT Appearance of the Prehuman Christ
In this post https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/god-in-the-garden-of-eden-pt-1/, I am going to show from the context of Genesis 3 itself that the LORD God who appeared to Adam and Eve was the prehuman Lord Christ.
Here is the relevant part of Genesis 3:
“They HEARD Yahweh God’s VOICE (qol YHWH Elohim) WALKING in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. Yahweh God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ The man said, ‘I HEARD YOUR VOICE (qolaka) in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Yahweh God said to the woman, ‘What have you done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’… To Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to your wife’s voice, and ate from the tree, about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it,” the ground is cursed for your sake. You will eat from it with much labor all the days of your life. It will yield thorns and thistles to you; and you will eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ The man called his wife Eve because she would be the mother of all the living. Yahweh God made coats of animal skins for Adam and for his wife, and clothed them. Yahweh God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…’ Therefore Yahweh God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:8-13, 17-24 World English Bible (WEB)
According to the context, it was the Voice of God who showed up to confront the first human couple. I.e. God’s Voice is an actual living, conscious Being who appears and speaks to God’s creatures.
Note once again what the passage says:
“And they HEARD THE VOICE of Jehovah God WALKING in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:8 American Standard Version (ASV)
Now some have translated the Hebrew word qol as “sound,”
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” NIV
E.g., it wasn’t God’s Voice that Adam and Eve heard walking, but rather what they heard was the sound made by God as he walked in the garden.
The problem with interpreting qol as sound here is that this same term is used later on in the chapter without anyone denying that it means voice:
“To Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to your wife’s voice (qol), and ate from the tree, about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it,” the ground is cursed for your sake. You will eat from it with much labor all the days of your life.’” Genesis 3:17 WEB
Would anyone argue that Adam was blamed for listening to the sound of his wife, as opposed to her voice?
The inspired author again uses qol in the very next chapter:
“Yahweh said, ‘What have you done? The voice (qol) of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.’” Genesis 4:10 WEB
Even though this is an obvious case of personification, would anyone argue that God was actually saying that the sound, as opposed to the voice, of Abel’s blood was crying out to him?
Therefore, the only reason why anyone would render qol as sound in respect to the LORD God’s appearance in the garden is because of an unwillingness to accept the fact that the OT prophets already knew and spoke of God being multi-Personal by nature.
This isn’t the only time where God’s Voice is depicted as a living, conscious agent:
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim: each one had SIX WINGS; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven. And I HEARD THE VOICE of the Lord (qol Adonay), SAYING, Whom shall I send, and who will go for US (lanu)? Then I said, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land.” Isaiah 6:1-12 ASV
In this amazing vision, the prophet not only sees the LORD God but actually hears God’s Voice speak to him from God’s throne!
Here, again, is the verse in question:
“Then I heard the voice of Adonai saying: ‘Whom should I send, and who will go for Us?’ So I said, ‘Hineni. Send me.’” Tree of Life Version (TLV)
What makes this all the more remarkable is that the Voice asks “who will go for US,” plural, as opposed to speaking in the singular, “for ME.” I.e. the Voice is asking who will be the spokesperson for them, with the plural being a reference to the LORD God whom the prophet saw.
This in itself prepares us to see some kind of personal distinction between the Lord and his Voice, e.g., since God and his Voice are two distinct entities this accounts for the use of the plural form lanu.
Hence, the plural indicates that the Lord who commissioned Isaiah to be his inspired emissary isn’t a unitary monad, but a multi-Personal Being. More on Isaiah’s vision a little later.
The following Psalm provides further proof that God’s Voice in these particular texts is a living personal Being:
“Yahweh has established his throne in the heavens. His kingdom rules over all. Praise Yahweh, you angels of his, who are mighty in strength, who fulfill his word, obeying the voice OF HIS WORD (ba-qol dabaro). Praise Yahweh, all you armies of his, you servants of his, who do his pleasure.” Psalm 103:19-21 WEB
The angels obey the Voice of God’s Word which they hear from God’s heavenly throne. We shouldn’t take this as merely a poetic description of God speaking, e.g., the angels hear the words that come from God’s Voice, from God speaking directly to them. Rather, we should take this for what it says, namely, the angels hear the Voice of God’s Word whenever the Word speaks to them from God’s throne. I.e., the angels hear the Word’s Voice whenever the Word reveals God’s orders to them.
Now lest we be accused of reading too much into these verses, or of forcing them to agree with our Trinitarian assumptions, notice what the following Jewish sources have to say in respect to God’s Voice/Word:
“In contrast, the loud moaning of their enemies was a jarring and miserable sound. It rose up and could be heard everywhere as they mourned their dead children. The same judgment fell on both slave and ruler. Both were punished together. The lowest person and the king suffered the same thing. Countless bodies lay around, united together by a common name: death. There weren’t even enough of the living left to bury the dead! In one fleeting moment, their most valued children were destroyed. Because of their misguided casting of spells and drug use, they didn’t believe until it was too late. As a result, all their oldest males were destroyed. It was only then that they acknowledged your people to be your children. It was then, while everything was wrapped in a gentle silence, and half a night had already passed, that your ALL-POWERFUL WORD had leaped down from heaven, THE ROYAL THRONE. Like a fierce warrior, he had entered the land that was marked for destruction. He carried with him your unchanging declaration like a sharp sword. He stood up and filled everything with death; he reached the sky while still standing on the ground.” Wisdom of Solomon 18:10-16 CEB
Here is a pre-Christian Jewish writing, which is believed to be inspired Scripture by a very large segment of Christianity, e.g., Roman Catholicism, Orthodox, Coptic etc., that is fully aware that God’s Word is a personal Agent who sits enthroned with God in heaven, and whom God dispatches to save his people and/or judge his enemies.
Nor is this an isolated or sole example since here is how the Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to as the Targums (Targumim), explain the Voice of God that appeared in the garden:
And they heard the voice OF THE WORD of the Lord God walking in the garden in the repose of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from before the Lord God among the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called to Adam, and said to him, Is not all the world which I have made manifest before Me; the darkness as the light? and how hast thou thought in thine heart to hide from before Me? The place where thou art concealed, do I not see? Where are the commandments that I commanded thee?
[JERUSALEM. Walking in the garden in the strength of the day……And the Word of the Lord God called to Adam, and said to him, Behold, the world which I have created is manifest before Me; and how thinkest thou that the place in the midst whereof thou art, is not revealed before Me? Where is the commandment which I taught thee?]
And he said, The voice OF THY WORD heard I in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked; and the commandment which Thou didst teach me, I have transgressed; therefore I hid myself from shame…
[JERUSALEM. And the Word of the Lord God said, Behold, Adam whom I have created is sole in my world, as I am sole in the heavens above. It is to be that a great people are to arise from him; from him will arise a people who will know how to discern between good and evil. And now it is good that we keep him from the garden of Eden before he stretch forth his hand and take also of the fruit of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever……And He cast out Adam, and made the glory of His Shekina to dwell at the front of the east of the garden of Eden, above the two Kerubaia. Two thousand years before He had created the world, He created the law, and prepared Gehinnam and the garden of Eden. He prepared the garden of Eden for the righteous, that they should eat, and delight themselves with the fruit of the tree, because they had kept the commandments of the law in this world. For the wicked He prepared Gehinnam, which is like the sharp, consuming sword with two edges. He prepared in the depth of it flakes of fire and burning coals for the wicked, for their punishment for ever in the world to come, who have not kept the commandment of the law in this world. For the law is the tree of life; whoever keepeth it in this life liveth and subsisteth as the tree of life. The law is good to keep in this world, as the fruit of the tree of life in the world that cometh.] (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee, by J. W. Etheridge, M.A., First Published 1862 http://targum.info/pj/pjgen1-6.htm; capital, italicized and underline emphasis ours)
And they heard the voice OF THE WORD of the Lord God walking in the garden in the evening of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from before the Lord God among the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where art thou? And he said, The voice OF THY WORD heard I in the garden, and I was afraid, because I (was) naked, and I would hide. (Ibid. http://targum.info/onk/Gen1_6.htm; capitalize, italicized and underline emphasis ours)
And here is the Aramaic interpretation of Isaiah’s vision:
In the year in which King Uzziah was smitten with the leprosy the prophet said, I saw THE GLORY of the Lord sitting upon His throne, high, and lifted up unto the highest heavens, and the temple was filled with the brightness of His glory… And one cried unto another and they were saying, Holy in the highest and exalted heavens is the house of His Shekinah, holy upon the earth is the work of His might, holy for ever, world without end, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of the brightness of His glory… Then said I, Woe is me, for I have sinned, for I am a guilty man to reprove, and I dwell in the midst of a people polluted with sin: for mine eyes have seen THE GLORY of the Shekinah of the King of the worlds, the Lord of hosts… And I heard the voice OF THE WORD of the Lord, which said, Whom shall I send to prophesy? and who will go to teach? Then said I, Here am I, send me. (The Chaldee Paraphrase on the Prophet Isaiah by Jonathan b. Uzziel, translated by Rev. C. W. H. Pauli [London Society House, 1871], pp. 20-21 https://books.google.com/books?id=_boCAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; capital, italicized and underline emphasis ours)
In another place, the Targum interprets Isaiah 6:1 in reference to the prophet actually seeing the Word of Yahweh seated on God’s heavenly throne!
“But the custom of (other) nations is to carry their gods upon their shoulders, that they may seem to be nigh them; but they cannot hear with their ears, (be they nigh or) be they afar off; but the Word of the Lord sitteth upon His throne high and lifted up, and heareth our prayer what time we pray before Him and make our petitions.” (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Deuteronomy 4:7 http://targum.info/pj/pjdt3-7.htm; italicized and underline emphasis ours)
Notice how all of these citations identify the Voice of God that appeared to Adam and Eve, and who spoke to Isaiah from God’s heavenly throne, as the Word of the Lord. I.e., these Jewish writings understood God’s Voice to be the Word of the Lord who spoke to the first human couple and commissioned the prophet.
These sources simply make explicit the already implicit association between God’s Voice and His Word in the Hebrew Bible, e.g., the Voice of God is God’s Word who appears and speaks on God’s behalf in order to make God known to his creatures.
In other words, these varied Jewish writings confirm that God’s Voice is to be identified with the Word of God that appears and/or speaks to God’s servants (cf. Genesis 15:1, 4; 1 Samuel 3:6-7, 20-21; Jeremiah 1:4-14; Zechariah 4:8-9).
There’s more. This next Jewish work,
(9) Seventy names did I take from (my) names and called him by them to enhance his glory. Seventy princes gave I into his hand, to command unto them my precepts and my words in every language: to abase by his word the proud to the ground, and to exalt by the utterance of his lips the humble to the height ; to smite kings by his speech, to turn kings away from their paths, to set up(the) rulers over their dominion as it is written (Dan.ii. 21): “and he changeth the times and the seasons, and to give wisdom unto all the setwise of the world and understanding (and) knowledge to all who understand knowledge, as it is written (Dan. ii. 21): “and knowledge to them that know understanding”, to reveal to them the secrets of my words and to teach the decree of my righteous judgement,
(10) as it is written (Is. Iv. n): “so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void but shall accomplish (that which I please)”. ‘E’eseh’ (I shall accomplish) is not written here, but “asah’ (HE shall accomplish), meaning, that whatever word and whatever utterance goes forth from before the Holy One, blessed be He, Metatron stands and carries it out. And he establishes the decrees of the Holy One, blessed be He. (3 Enoch 48 C Alt https://archive.org/stream/HebrewBookOfEnochenoch3/BookOfEnoch3_djvu.txt; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Identifies the Word that is mentioned in the following OT passage,
“So shall My Davar (the WORD of Hashem) be that goeth forth out of My mouth; HE shall not return unto Me reikam (empty, void) but HE [the Davar Hashem, see Yn 1:1,14] shall do that which I please, and HE [the Davar Hashem] shall accomplish (asah) the purpose whereto I sent HIM.” Isaiah 55:11 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
As the heavenly being called Metatron, which Jewish tradition called the “Lesser Yahweh” and identified as Enoch!
Here is an alternate rendering of the citation from 3 Enoch:
“So the word that goes forth from my mouth does not return to me empty; HE carries out my will” (P. Alexander, 3 [Hebrew Apocalypse of] Enoch, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, James H. Charlesworth, ed. [Doubleday, New York 1983], p. 312; capital and underline emphasis ours)
The reason why God’s Word in Isaiah 55:11 was understood to be Metatron is because the verb employed to describe the actions of the Word, i.e. asah (“he shall accomplish”), is a masculine verb. This use of the masculine led the writer(s) to assume that the Word was a heavenly masculine figure, a personal Being whom God dispatches to accomplish his purposes on the earth.
The foregoing quotations show that the Biblical depiction of God’s Voice walking and talking cannot simply be brushed aside as a personification or anthropomorphizing of God’s qualities. Rather, as even the Jews who produced these works clearly saw, God’s Voice/Word is an actual living, conscious divine Entity who is both personally distinct from and identical with God.
Now according to the inspired Christian Scriptures, that Voice, that Word, which the Hebrew Bible often refers to, became a flesh and blood human being and is now known as the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s uniquely beloved Son!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth… 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 1:1, 14, 18 NIV
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3 NIV
“He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” Revelation 19:13
This confirms what we argued for in the first part of our discussion, namely, the Being who appeared to the first human couple in Eden, the Lord’s Voice that spoke from God’s throne to Isaiah, was actually Jesus Christ in his prehuman existence.
The Apostle John provides further confirmation for this fact since here is what he wrote in regards to the Jewish rejection of Jesus despite all the miraculous signs he had performed to convince them of who he was:
“Although Jesus 77 had performed 78 so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, so that the word 79 of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, 80 ‘Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord 81 been revealed?’ 82 For this reason they could not believe, 83 because again Isaiah said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, 84 so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, 85 and turn to me, 86 and I would heal them.’ 87 Isaiah said these things because HE SAW CHRIST’S 88 GLORY, AND SPOKE OF HIM. Nevertheless, even among the rulers 89 many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees 90 they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ, 91 so that they would not be put out of 92 the synagogue. 93” John 12:37-41
88 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9).
sn Because he saw Christ’s glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus. (NET Bible https://net.bible.org/#!bible/John+12:36; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Here the inspired Apostle cites Isaiah 6:10 where Isaiah sees Yahweh enthroned in heaven, and claims that the God whose glory the prophet beheld in that specific vision was none other than the prehuman Christ! This is brought out more clearly in the Syriac version of John’s Gospel:
Ver. 41. “This did Isaiah say, when he saw his glory and spoke of him.” John justifies in this verse the application which he has just made to Jesus Christ of the vision of Is. vi. The Adonai whom Isaiah beheld at that moment was the divine being who is incarnated in Jesus. Herein also John and Paul meet together; comp. 1 Cor. x. 4, where Paul calls the one who guided Israel from the midst of the cloud Christ. Some interpreters have tried to refer the pronoun autou, of him, not to Christ, but to God. But the last words: and spoke of him, would be useless in this sense and this remark would be aimless in the context. The Alexandrian reading, “because he saw,” instead of “when he saw him,” is adopted by Tischendorf, Weiss, Keil, etc. But it does not appear to me acceptable. Its only reasonable sense would be: “because he really saw his glory and spoke of Him so long beforehand (a thing which seems impossible).” But this reflection would be very coldly apologetic and quite useless for readers who were accustomed to hear the prophecies quoted. It is much more easy to understand how the conjunction hote, which is quite rarely used, may have been replaced by hoti, which appears in every line, than how the reverse could have taken place. The ancient Latin and Syriac versions are agreed in supporting the received text. The sense of the latter is simple and perfectly suitable. “It was of Christ, who manifested Himself to him as Adonai, that Isaiah spoke when he uttered such words.” John proves that he has the right to apply this passage here. (Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John with an Historical and Critical Introduction, translated from the third French edition with a preface introductory suggestions, and additional notes by Timothy Dwight President of Yale [Funk and Wagnals Publishers, New York 1886], Volume 2, pp. 235-236 https://books.google.com/books?id=zx8WAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; bold emphasis ours)
To sum up our discussion:
- According to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve heard God’s Voice walking in the garden, showing that the Voice is not simply God’s speech but a living conscious Entity whom God sends to speak on his behalf.
- God’s Voice shows up again in the vision of Isaiah 6 where the prophet sees Yahweh God visibly seated on his heavenly throne.
- In that vision, the Voice asks whom should he send and who would go “for US,” referring to the Godhead in the plural.
- This indicates that there is a divine plurality within the singular Being of the God of Israel, and that a personal distinction exists between the Lord and the Lord’s Voice.
- God’s Voice is associated with God’s Word in Psalm 103:20, thereby indicating that the Voice is simply another or abbreviated way of referring to the Word of the Lord who often appears in the OT to the prophets and the people of God.
- Specific Jewish sources make this connection between the Voice and Word of God even more explicit, and clearly view God’s Word as a living, conscious Being whom God sends to communicate to his creation.
- The inspired NT writings teach that this very eternal Word took on flesh and blood, and became an actual historical Person whose name is Jesus Christ.
- Therefore, since Jesus is the eternal Word of God, and since this Word is associated with the Voice of God that appeared to the first human couple, and who commissioned the prophet Isaiah, this means that the Lord God who walked in the Garden was none other than the preincarnate Christ.
The “Heavenly” and “Earthly” Yahweh Part II https://www.answeringislam.net/authors/rogers/genesis_19_24_trinitarian2.html
Let Us Make Man: A Trinitarian Interpretation https://www.answeringislam.net/authors/rogers/genesis_1_26_trinitarian.html
Whose Glory Did Isaiah See? The Views of Scholars and Apologists https://www.answeringislam.net/authors/shamoun/lord_glory_isaiah.html