A couple of weeks ago I received the following response via email to a post I made on the blog. Because the individual has chosen not to reply to my answer, and because the material is important enough to share, I am redacting the pseudonym (he/she did not use a real name) and posting it with some thoughts/comments.
Initial notes: The author’s religious affiliation, per my ‘contact us’ form, is ‘Jewish.’ The comment was in response to this post.
Comment: Out of respect to you and your blog, I did not want to publicly reply to your post with the following.
OK…look…I know where you are trying to lead this, but your reasoning is severely flawed and here is why. You are trying to imply that God put himself into a meat container. God has no form. God never, ever, ever, ever takes the form of his creation, never has, never will(This includes becoming a man)! Deuteronomy 4:15-19; Numbers 23:19 Maybe you should switch angles and look at what you are implying from a purely “Jewish” perspective. Look at the golden calf incident and substitute the golden calf with the demi-god idol you are suggesting for one to worship. Oh wait, BUT HE’S NOT A DEMI-GOD IDOL, HE IS GOD!! Nope, sorry, the Israelites themselves, who were actually there at Mt Sinai and saw the Shekinah said the exact same thing about the golden calf. You know what God thought of that. Hmm, maybe you should consider the real test God is putting you through, Deuteronomy 13. ” If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass,”…like walking on water or perhaps making water into wine, etc, etc, etc. Put down your pride and seriously consider what I am suggesting to you Pete. You are an intelligent and articulate person. You know very well in your studies that there are a lot of things that do not jive and have to be forced into cohesiveness. I could have gone into a deeper and more detailed reply, but in order not to waste your time if you are not open to discussion, I kept it brief and to the point.
I responded with the following,
Thank you for your consideration and I appreciate the reply.
I am interested in discussion as long as it is respectful and fair. I promise the same.
I understand what you are saying in your answer, which I attached by forwarding your comments to keep this all together. God is Spirit/has no form and can’t be seen… Yet Scripture gives a very interesting picture that causes us to have a conundrum. How would you answer/deal with the following?
Genesis 16:13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”
Genesis 32:29-30 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”
Judges 13:21-23 Now the angel of the Lord did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22 So Manoah said to his wife, “We will surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time.”Notice that in each case, the one seen/spoken with, either ‘a man’ or ‘the angel of the Lord,’ makes claims reserved only for God (“I will greatly multiply your descendants… Gen. 16:10; “your name shall be Israel…” Gen. 32:28; “He … accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands… Ju. 13:23). The ‘messenger’ does not say, ‘The Lord said….’ Rather, He says, ‘I…’There are a number of similar examples that the sages understand to be the ‘Metatron’ or the ‘Memra,’ as I understand it.
This same being that Ya’acov wrestles with, defers instead of answering the question, ‘What is your name?’ This same question is asked by Manoah in Judges 13:17 and the reply is a cryptic ‘Why do you ask my name seeing it is wonderful?’ Isaiah 9:6-7 begins to answer the riddle with,
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will [a]rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
He who is to come who will sit on the throne of David forever is called ‘Mighty God?’ ‘Eternal Father?’ Who has heard of such a thing??
A lot to chew there… Interested in your thoughts concerning the unseeable God that these passages clearly articulate as having been seen.
BTW, what is your name?Shalom and blessings!
My initial thought was that the commenter was interested in serious discussion, however, I have since begun to speculate that this is an anti-missionary seeking to undermine faith in Yeshua. The number one defense to one’s theology being twisted is to know the Scriptures!! It is important to note that after this individual has had my response in-hand for two weeks, there has been no reply. Zero, nada, zilch. Presumably because they may be able to argue with me, but can’t argue with the Scripture’s clear statements.
[Since that exchange, friend and Messianic Jew, Dr. Jonathan Krause loaned me a book by Douglas Pyle titled What The Rabbonim Say About Moshiach. It is a terrific compilation with little commentary of Rabbinic thought and comments on various aspects of the expected Messiah. I found the book in print ($9.95) because I want a hardcopy, but the above link is to a free downloadable pdf file!!! Add it to your library as a handy reference.]
Further notes on the email: The author invokes Deuteronomy 4:15-19 which says’
15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure,…
That verse does not say that Moshe did not see a form… Consider,
3 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the [a]west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of [b]a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “[c]I must turn aside now and see this [d]marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Here we have a form speaking from the midst of the fire to Moshe on Mt. Horeb/Sinai!! Later, in the Exodus narrative, we see this amazing encounter,
9 Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and seventy of the leaders went up; 10 and they saw the God of Isra’el. Under his feet was something like a sapphire stone pavement as clear as the sky itself. 11 He did not reach out his hand against these notables of Isra’el; on the contrary, they saw God, even as they were eating and drinking.
The verses my emailer cites must be held in tension/balance with these among the multiple texts in the Torah that clearly point to a visible form who speaks with all of the authority and divinity of God Himself. Clearly, He chooses, at points, to reveal Himself in a form that is recognizable to those with whom He is communicating. There is no other way to take all verses into account. Nevermind the fact that ‘elohim’ is plural and ‘echad‘ is a plural unity!
We must dig and study to understand the fullness of what scripture says, not simply accept what the Jewish rabbis or Christian theologians tell us to believe. I maintain that the truth lies somewhere in between and is ‘The Way’ that the Ruach/Spirit is revealing to Jews and non-Jews all over the planet!