We resume our discussion https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/jesus-as-a-god-alongside-god-pt-2/.
We now turn to the second point, namely that De 32:39 refers to God’s activity. Sanders’ claim that there was no other god besides Yahweh who acted on Israel’s behalf provides additional proof that the JW position is unbiblical. The scriptures clearly say that God wasn’t alone in redeeming Israel:
“And Jehovah was going ahead of them in the daytime in a pillar of cloud to lead them by the way, and in the nighttime in a pillar of fire to give them light to go in the daytime and nighttime. The pillar of cloud would not move away from before the people in the daytime nor the pillar of fire in the nighttime.” Exodus 13:21-22
“Then the angel of the [true] God who was going ahead of the camp of Israel departed and went to their rear and the pillar of cloud departed from their van and stood in the rear of them. So it came in between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. On the one hand it proved to be a cloud together with darkness. On the other hand it kept lighting up the night. And this group did not come near that group all night long… And it came about during the morning watch that Jehovah began to look out upon the camp of the Egyptians from within the pillar of fire and cloud, and he went throwing the camp of the Egyptians into confusion. And he kept taking the wheels off their chariots so that they were driving them with difficulty; and the Egyptians began to say: ‘Let us flee from any contact with Israel, because Jehovah certainly fights for them against the Egyptians.’” Exodus 14:19-20, 24-25
“Here I am sending an angel ahead of you to keep you on the road and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. Watch yourself because of him and obey his voice. Do not behave rebelliously against him, for he will not pardon YOUR transgression; because my name is within him. However, if you strictly obey his voice, and really do all that I shall speak, then I shall certainly be hostile to your enemies and harass those who harass you. For my angel will go ahead of you and will indeed bring you to the Am’orites and the Hit’tites and the Per’izzites and the Ca’naanites, the Hi’vites and the Jeb’usites, and I shall certainly efface them.” Exodus 23:20-23
“And Jehovah said further to Moses: ‘Go move up from here, you and the people, whom you led up out of the land of Egypt, to the land about which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, “To your seed I shall give it.” And I will send an angel ahead of you and drive out the Ca’naanites, the Am’orites, and the Hit’tites and the Per’izzites, the Hi’vites and the Jeb’usites; to land flowing with milk and honey, for I shall not go up in the midts of you, because you are a stiff-necked people, that I may not exterminate you on the way.’’’ Exodus 33:1-3
“Finally we cried out to Jehovah and he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt; and here we are in Ka’desh, a city at the extremity of your territory.” Numbers 20:16
“Then Jehovah’s angel went up from Gil’gal to Bo’chim and said: ‘I proceeded to bring YOU up out of Egypt and to bring YOU into the land about which I swore to YOUR forefathers. Furthermore, I said, “Never shall I break my covenant with YOU. And for YOUR part, you must not conclude a covenant with the inhabitants of this land. Their altars YOU should pull down.” But YOU have not listened to my voice. Why have YOU done this? So I, in turn, have said, “I shall not drive them away from before YOU, and their gods will serve as a lure to YOU.”’ And it came about that as soon as Jehovah’s angel had spoken these words to all the sons of Israel, the people began to raise their voices and weep. Hence they called the name of that place Bo’chim. And they proceeded to sacrifice to Jehovah.” Judges 2:1-5
“I will make mention of the lovingkindnesses of Jehovah, [and] the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, AND THE ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE SAVED THEM: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, [and] himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses [and] his people, [saying], Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit in the midst of them? that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? that divided the waters before them, to make himself an everlasting name? that led them through the depths, as a horse in the wilderness, so that they stumbled not? As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of Jehovah caused them to rest; so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.” Isaiah 63:8-9 ASV
“And when forty years were fulfilled, there appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Si’nai an angel in the fiery flame of a thornbush…This Moses, whom they disowned, saying, ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge?’ this man God sent off as both ruler and deliverer by the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the thornbush… This is he that came to be among the congregation in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Si’nai and with our forefathers, and he received living sacred pronouncements to give YOU.” Acts 7:30, 35, 38
Other passages show that this angel wasn’t alone since there were myriads of angels accompanying him:
“… Jehovah-from Si’nai came, And he flashed forth from Se’ir upon them. He beamed forth from the mountainous region of Pa’ran, And with him were holy myriads, At his right hand warriors belonging to them.” Deuteronomy 33:2
“YOU who received the LAW as transmitted by angels but have not kept it.” Acts 7:53
“Why, then, the Law? It was added to make transgression manifest, until the seed should arrive to whom the promise had been made; and it was transmitted through angels by the hand of a mediator.” Galatians 3:19
“For if the word spoken through angels proved to be firm, and every transgression and disobedient act received a retribution in harmony with justice;” Hebrews 2:2
We are now left with one of two conclusions. Either Sanders is right that Yahweh was the only god who acted on behalf of Israel, which means that these angels were not gods. Or the Watchtower and Stafford are correct regarding the existence of angelic gods, which means that Yahweh wasn’t the only god who acted on Israel’s behalf. Both positions can’t be true.
Either way, JWs are left with major problems. Adopting Sanders’ position nullifies the JW belief in angelic gods. Adopting the JW view that there are angelic gods would lead to a contradiction with De 32:39 which says that there are no gods with Yahweh. As we have seen, the reference to demons in De 32:17 shows that angels are also included amongst those who are said to be no gods, contrary to the claims of the Watchtower and Stafford.
In light of the preceding, the JW position that angels are gods cannot be maintained. Yahweh alone is God in essence and nature.
Stafford may argue that an angel acting as God’s agent on behalf of Israel is not the same thing as an angelic god working on Israel’s behalf of his own accord. He may argue that since the angels are God’s agents, it is still God who acts alone through them on Israel’s behalf.
If Stafford chooses to argue this way, then he would only be missing the point that the word “only” means “only one.” If angels acted on Israel’s behalf – regardless of their supposed agency – they are still there with YHWH, and YHWH is therefore not alone.
What then of the JW interpretation of John 1:1? The biblical data shows that translating the passage as “a god” is not acceptable. It is in clear violation of the clear absolute monotheism taught in the inspired pages of Scripture.
For more information regarding John 1:1 and the JW translation, please consult the following excellent articles and discussions:
Germans, JW’s and John 1:1 http://vintage.aomin.org/GERM_JWS.html
John 1:1 Meaning and Translation http://vintage.aomin.org/JOHN1_1.html
John 1:1 http://forananswer.org/John/Jn1_1.htm
The New World Translation: What the Scholars Really Said http://forananswer.org/Top_JW/Scholars and NWT.htm
Robert Hommel versus Jason Beduhn http://forananswer.org/Mars_Jw/JB-RH.Jn1_1.Index.htm
With the foregoing in view we are ready to proceed to the addendum https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/jesus-as-a-god-alongside-god-pt-1-2/.