"GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH" (2)
In our last study of this title, we saw how the idea of God being “Manifest” was to do with making known His Character and Purpose. We saw from Psalm 98 and verse 2, that the key elements being revealed are the “Salvation” appointed by the Father, and also “His Righteousness”. Indeed these two aspects are picked up and brought together by Messiah, who exhorted: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God [i.e. salvation], and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33).
It is an important point to note therefore, that Salvation as appointed by Yahweh is not an end in itself. As we see above, seeking the promised Kingdom is linked with seeking Yahweh’s Righteousness. But by contrast, it is common for religious groups and churches to elevate man, to emphasise the Self, and what benefits there may be for man. Thus God is deposed from his High Position in the Heavens, as Ruler over all, to be a benevolent servant to man, doing man’s bidding and bestowing blessings upon anyone who asks.
The Way of salvation revealed in The Word however, is very different. It is true that salvation and all that it involves does include a benefit to man, but that is not an end in itself; it is appointed for a far higher purpose—to show forth Yahweh’s Glory and Righteousness.
Consider the following testimonies:
“Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that Glory may dwell in our land” (Psa. 85:9)
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake” (Psa. 79:9).
A fundamental point is taught in these passages: As we have said, Salvation is for a far higher purpose than to save sinners from death. Rather, it is the means whereby Glory shall “dwell in the land”, and it is for the “Glory” of the Deity’s “Name”. Bro Thomas wrote of this, in his oft quoted, and equally oft misunderstood words (emphasis ours):
“Men were not ushered into being for the purpose of being saved or lost. God-manifestation, not human salvation, was the grand purpose of the Eternal Spirit. The salvation of a multitude is incidental to the manifestation, but it was not the end proposed. The Eternal Spirit intended to enthrone himself on the earth, and, in so doing, to develop a Divine Family from among men, every one of whom shall be spirit because born of the Spirit, and that this family shall be large enough to fill the earth, when perfected, to the entire exclusion of flesh and blood.”
John Thomas, 1858
We see then, that an inextricable aspect of “God Manifestation”, is the Father’s Holy Name, with our very salvation being accomplished for His “Name’s Sake”. We need therefore to appreciate the significance of that Name, what is means and how it reflects the Father’s Revealed purpose.
THE FATHER’S NAME
Exodus chapter 3 records Moses’ words to Yahweh, in response to his being instructed to be a captain over Israel’s salvation from the Egyptians:
“Moses said unto God, Behold, When I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your Father’s hath sent me unto you; and they shall say unto me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?” (Exo. 3:13).
Here then, is a very direct question: “What is his Name”? What is the appellation by which the Deity wishes to be known?
“and God said to Moses: ehyeh asher ehyeh, and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Ehyeh hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh, God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob hath sent me unto you: this is my Name Forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Exo. 3:14-15)
The English (AV) version has it thus:
“God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM … say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you”.
This rendering is most objectionable for reasons which we shall now go on to consider.
THE MEANING OF THE NAME
The Hebrew rendered “I AM” translates the Hebrew (as above) “Ehyeh”. This same word is used in a number of places in Scripture, where present tense is not feasible:
“… and he said, Certainly I will be with thee” (Exo. 3:12)
“… I will be his Father, and he shall be my son” (2 Sam. 7:14).
In the first citation, the promise is that Yahweh will be with Moses in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.
This last citation is of particular importance, as the Spirit translates it into the Greek:
“I will be to him a Father, and he shall be my son” (Heb. 1:5)
The Spirit thus sanctions the rendering “I will be”, as distinct from “I am”.
There is another way in which the meaning of the Deity’s name can be shown. Messiah, as a Son bore his Father’s name as part of his own: Yah-shua. Yah=Yahweh, and shua=salvation. So, the Spirit translates Messiah’s name as “he shall save his people from their sins” (Mat. 1:21). “He shall save” is the Spirit’s rendering of Messiah’s composite name, which by definition therefore translates the Father’s Name as referential of the future: “I will be”.
But the word used in Exodus 3:14: “ehyeh” is different to the name later used in verse 15: “Yahweh” The reason for that is this: “Ehyeh” means “I will be” and is therefore used by the Deity with reference to Himself. Yahweh however, means “he will be”, and is used of his Servants with reference to their Master. When we therefore address the Almighty by his proper name, we do so by using “Yahweh,” and thus give respect to the purpose that Yahweh has Revealed.
THE NAME AND THE PURPOSE
Why does it matter whether or not the Name means “I AM”, or “I Will be”? It is not merely an academic difference, for encapsulated within the Name is the Father’s Purpose. We have already seen that “God Manifestation” is to do with the Revealing of His Salvation, the glory of His Name, and the showing forth of His Righteousness—and these are all things to come. Our Father’s Name is future tense, for it describes His Purpose, which is future. We can understand why the translators had difficulty with the rendering, for to them—and most religious groups—the thing emphasised is the present. Present benefits and rewards; the here and now; salvation also being now (allegedly in heaven). But the glorious Name of Yahweh being expressive of the future just does not accommodate the present desires of men for instant blessing and salvation.
The purpose of the Deity is frequently expressed in various places in Scripture: we shall consider some of them:
“Thus saith Yahweh that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it: he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh; and there is none else” (Isa. 45:18).
“For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were Created” (Rev. 4:11).
“as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh (Num. 14:21)
“… I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am Yahweh” (Eze. 38:23).
Putting these things together, we find the following points emerge:
- “he formed it to be inhabited” for his pleasure
- The earth, thus inhabited shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh
- This manifestation (making known) shall be before many nations.
It is clear therefore, by drawing a parallel between the earth being filled, or inhabited with an immortal race, and the earth being filled with divine Glory, that it is through many immortal sons that the glorious array of Divine Attributes will be seen throughout the whole earth. Our Father’s very name itself speaks of those future days—infact, those who make up the great company of the Redeemed are said to have “his Father’s Name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).
THE PRACTICAL OUTWORKING
As we implied above, the doctrine of God Manifestation is not simply to provide an intellectual exercise (although studying the Scriptures does have the effect of exercising our minds unto godliness – 1 Tim. 4:7). Rather, it motivates us to make our ways Yahweh’s ways. Seeking those things which are above (Col. 3:1), rather than earthly things, we seek to emulate the attributes of Yahweh, that when His Son comes, there might be found in us something worthy of perpetuation into immortality. The subject is not dry and arid, as some seek to present it as being: rather it powers us to develop a likeness of He Who Will be, living for the kingdom to come, rather than the day at hand. So the Scriptures exhort:
“… Be ye therefore perfect [Gr. Complete] even as your father in heaven is perfect” (Mat. 5:48).
“… But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Pet. 1:15)
“… ye should shew forth the virtues [Marg.] of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Here is the true Spirit of God-Manifestation. It is to reveal Divine things to those around us, even the qualities and attributes of our Father. As loving children, we ought to seek a paternal likeness in ourselves and each other. What a glorious blessing is to come upon the Redeemed!
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God … Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 Jno. 3:1-3).