Friday, May 16, 2014

The Wings of Christ Are God's Wings

(originally posted 11/30/14)

In this blogpost three New Testament passages are compared with each other and with other Old Testament passages to conclude that Christ is fully God.

46 And he said, "Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,'50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering."- Luke 11:46-52

 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"- Luke 13:34-35

29    "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,30 saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Lament over Jerusalem
37    "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!38 See, your house is left to you desolate.39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"- Matt. 23:29-39

In these passages we have Christ being described as having the prerogatives and performing the activities of the one true God (Yahweh or Jehovah).

1. Notice that in Luke 11:49 it says "the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send...prophets" whereas in Matt. 23:34 Jesus says He HIMSELF sends prophets. This is something the Old Testament says God did and does (as the verses below will demonstrate). Christ didn't reserve the sending of prophets to God the Father. Jesus seems to be identifying Himself with the Wisdom personified in the Old Testament wisdom literature along with intertestamental apocryphal literature and the Aramaic targumim paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures. The targumim also seem to personify the Old Testament "Word of YHWH" by attributing to it (or him) characteristics of personhood like mind, will and actions. Additionally, in this passage of Luke 11:49, Jesus also seems to be implying His own personal (conscious) preexistence prior to His incarnation. Admittedly, this passage doesn't explicitly teach personal preexistence. Nevertheless, I think the passage is best made sense of with the assumption of preexistence.

2. Notice how Christ speaks like Jehovah in the Old Testament when He uses the imagery of a hen gathering her brood under her wings. Christ didn't reserve this imagery to the Father alone but includes Himself in it. There are also many passages in the Old Testament where God calls Israel to repentance that parallels Christ's statements above, but they are so numerous that I decided not to include them below. Anyone familiar with the Tanakh will instantly recall them on their own.

Now compare those three New Testament passages with the following Old Testament passages.

Regarding the imagery of a bird and its use of its wings.

11    Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
        that flutters over its young,
    spreading out its wings, catching them,
        bearing them on its pinions,

12    the LORD alone guided him,
        no foreign god was with him.- Deut. 32:11-12

 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!"- Ruth 2:12

7    Wondrously show your steadfast love,
        O Savior of those who seek refuge
        from their adversaries at your right hand.
8    Keep me as the apple of your eye;
        hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9    from the wicked who do me violence,
        my deadly enemies who surround me.- Ps. 17:7-9

7    How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
        The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.- Ps. 36:7

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
        for in you my soul takes refuge;
    in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
        till the storms of destruction pass by.- Ps. 57:1

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
        Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah- Ps. 61:4

    for you have been my help,
        and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.- Ps. 63:7

He will cover you with his pinions,
        and under his wings you will find refuge
        his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.- Ps. 91:4

Regarding the sending and/or rejection/killing of God's prophets.

 "Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.- Neh. 9:26

In vain have I struck your children;
        they took no correction;
    your own sword devoured your prophets
        like a ravening lion.- Jer. 2:30

15    The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.- 2 Chron. 36:15-16

3 "For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened.4 You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the LORD persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets,- Jer. 25:3-4

 I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, 'Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.' But you did not incline your ear or listen to me.- Jer. 35:15

Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, 'Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!'- Jer. 44:4

Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.' But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD.- Zech. 1:4

What mere human prophet, or even an exalted angel, could declare, imply and teach the things Christ says in these passages without committing blasphemy? Yet Christ does so without committing blasphemy. This is another example of how the Lord Jesus Christ hinted at His full divinity without explicitly saying so in so many words.

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