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Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is One.”[1] (Hebrew – ehad, a number – one; a certain one; first) Moses announced this to Israel while they were in the desert, before they entered the Promised Land. This was a reminder to a stubborn people, who readily deserted the Lord to follow other gods. In the land they were about to enter and possess, the nations worshipped many other gods. This was stated as a timely reminder that the Lord alone is God, and that He alone should be worshipped.

In the Old Testament, the Lord revealed Himself to a number of people. Some of the more notable people are Adam and Eve, Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel and Daniel. He appeared to many of the prophets, as recorded in their books. He also appeared in the cloud of His glory in the temple a few times. There are just 2 people who have mountain top meetings with the Lord – Moses and Elijah. He chose these two men, out of all the people of the Old Testament for a more personal meeting.

In the majority of the OT encounters with the Lord, He appeared to be one Person, but in the meetings with Moses and Elijah, there was a glimpse of three Individuals.

Moses at Mt Sinai – Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with Me.’ If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. Remember that this nation is Your people.” The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to Him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me Your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My Name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” He said, “you cannot see My Face, for no one may see Me and live.” Then the LORD said, “There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”[2]

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His Name, the LORD. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”[3]

The Lord (1) stood with Moses, and proclaimed, “The Lord (2), The Lord (3), the compassionate and gracious God…”

Elijah at Mt Horeb – The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” The Lord (Jesus?) said, “Go and stand in the presence of the Lord (Father?), for the Lord (Holy Spirit?) is about to pass by.”[4]

These glimpses of the Three are rare and brief, and still the Lord as Three remains largely concealed, so it would be easy to think that there is only one Person.

However, in the New Testament, the Lord clearly revealed Himself as three distinct Individuals, who are in complete unity, so that They form One God. He is not one Person with a split personality, the Lord is three Individuals. An easy picture would be of a board of a big company, which consists of three people. Let us, for this example, call God ‘the Board’. The Board consists of three Members, each with specific jobs and personalities, but in complete unity and agreement, thinking and working as One to achieve Their common objective. The difference with the Lord is that They are in such perfect unity that They are able to dwell in Each Other, and cannot exist without Each Other. To those who don’t know Them, They can sound and act the same, because They have been hanging around together for so long, and it can be easy to just refer to Them as ‘the Board’, without worrying about the individual members. However, for those who are family, and those who are being discipled or trained to rule with the Board, then knowing the Individuals and Their roles and Their particular character traits is essential and comes by spending much time with Them.

Jesus’ Ministry – In the Gospels, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Lord clearly demonstrated that there are three Individuals who go under the title of ‘the Lord.’ He revealed to John the Baptist ahead of time how John would identify Jesus. John testified: “I would not have known Him, except that the One (Father) who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man (Jesus) on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”[5] Immediately we can see the Lord as three Individuals. At Jesus’ baptism, this becomes clearer. As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment Heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from Heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”[6] We see Jesus in the water getting baptised, the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove, and we hear the Father’s voice from Heaven. Each Member of the triune God is an Individual, but They are in complete unity in Their focus and plans. On the Mount of Transfiguration, we again see Jesus, and hear the voice of the Father speaking from the cloud. This time, the Holy Spirit is the power that transfigured Jesus and the silent Witness living in Jesus.

Even the way Jesus talks, we see there are Three… He prays to the Father. (He is certainly not praying to Himself!) And He speaks of the Holy Spirit, who the Father sent when Jesus left to be with the Father.[7]

And even today, as we walk out our daily lives, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are still going about Their individual work. The Father is in Heaven, seated on His throne. Jesus is there also, seated at His right hand, interceding for us,[8] and waiting to return as King.[9] The Holy Spirit is currently on Earth, because the Father sent Him to be our Counsellor and to convict the world of sin. He reminds us of what Jesus said, speaks only what He hears and tells us what is yet to come.[10] The Holy Spirit also intercedes for us.[11] They also dwell in us, just as Jesus prayed, “I in them and You in Me.” And Luke 17:20-21 tells us: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.”

Let us clarify what Jesus meant when He said, I and the Father are One,” to the Pharisees.[12] In His prayer to the Father, Jesus prayed, “I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”[13] In verse 22, He used the same word for one (Gk: heis – one, single) both times. This is the same word He used in Matthew 19:6, when He talked about marriage: “So they are no longer two, but one.”  Jeremiah 32:38-39 explains it well: They will be My people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me for their own good and the good of their children after them.”

So, the Lord is One in two contexts –

1.     Deuteronomy 6:4 (also Deuteronomy 4:35-39, Nehemiah 9:6, Psalm 86:10) – These state that He is the only God, He alone.

2.     John 17:22 – The three Members of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are in complete unity, with singleness of heart and action.

In the Old Testament, the Lord began to reveal Himself to certain people, and then to the nation of Israel, but He still remained largely unknown to even the Israelites. It wasn’t until the arrival of Jesus to make His perfect sacrifice that the separation between God and man could be forever set aside. The Lord revealed Himself during Jesus’ lifetime, of course through Jesus, and also in the times when we see all Three. The tearing of the temple curtain at the time of Jesus’ death marks the completion of that work. The Lord Himself tore the curtain from top to bottom, thus vividly demonstrating the radical new nature of The Lord’s relationship with man.

The Lord continues to reveal Himself to those who are willing to listen and learn and come to know the Him. Jesus said, Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”[14] We must know Him before we can worship Him in spirit and in truth. Jesus also warned a crowd of His disciples in the sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”[15]

Even those who prophesy in His Name, drive out demons, and perform many miracles will be in great distress on ‘that day’, because, in all their busyness in the Name of the Lord, they did not take the time to get to know Him, for Jesus said, Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from Me, you evildoers!” How tragic for those people.

However, Jesus went straight on to teach how to build a house that won’t fall – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” We come to know the Lord by listening to Him, and putting His words into practice. As we begin to walk, talk, think and do as Jesus did, we must listen to the Holy Spirit, and we come to know the Father. Then we can worship the Lord, the Lord, the Lord in spirit and in truth.


 

[1] Deuteronomy 6:4

[2] Exodus 33:12-23

[3] Exodus 34:5-7

[4] 1 Kings 19:11

[5] John 1:33-34

[6] Matthew 3:16-17

[7] John 14:16-17, 16:7-12

[8] Psalm 110:1, Mark 16:19, Romans 8:34

[9] Acts 1:11, Revelation 22:20

[10] John 14:25-26, 16:7-8,13-15

[11] Romans 8:26-27

[12] John 10:30

[13] John 17:22-23

[14] John 4:23-24

[15] Matthew 7:21-27

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