YHWH our Heavenly Father
New Covenant Witness, No.78, January-March 2003
"And this is eternal life, that they know you (Father), that You alone are the Eloah (God) of truth, and whom You sent, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (John 17:3, HRV).
There is within every human being, young and old, male and female, a hunger to know God. And therefore today I want to ask not only one of the most difficult but also, I believe, the most important questions there is to ask: Who is God? And to answer that question I am going to turn to the Hebrew scriptures - the Tanakh - what we have come to know as the 'Old Testament' because it is there that we will learn the most about our Heavenly Father. To have eternal life, John (Yochanan) tells us, is to know two things: (1) the Father (Eloah); and (2) the Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus) whom He sent. Today I want to begin to probe the mystery that is our Heavenly Father by making a thorough examination of the Tanakh. And whatever experiences we may have had of God should, if they have been genuine ones and not based on our imagination or on counterfeit manifestations, will harmonise with the Word. Therefore the Word will be the standard by which we can come to measure our encounters with the Divine.
Words and Images
The first thing we have to recognise as finite beings seeking to understand the Infinite is that our expression of the Divine is going to be limited and limiting. The very nature of physicality is limiting especially as we try to express ourselves in words. And this is the first thing we learn about the Hebrew Tanakh - that the words within it, carefully selected by Yahweh in a language crafted to give maximum comprehension, are pictures seeking entrance both to our mind and spirit. Understanding comes viâ words, and words stimulate the formation of mental images that convey truth to us. Comprehension comes when the ruach or spirit of the Word, as imagery of the Hebrew language, makes a connection to the Eternal Ruach (Spirit), which in turn connects us to the personhood or Name of the 'One' who is the First Cause of everything. By the careful use of sacred words found in the Hebrew language, we are given descriptions of the 'One' who is, for example, both 'awesome' and 'jealous'. As these sacred descriptions are, first, individually understood, and then necessarily combined to create within us a cosmic picture of the Ultimate Truth, so we obtain - step by step - a revelation of the Creator. This is not, moreover, merely an intellectual exercise, but one, as John tells us, of intense and intimate communication which he calls 'knowing'. To know God in the final and total sense is, first, to touch and be touched by Him, and finally, to totally embrace, and be embraced, in harmonious union.
To know God - whether as a first encounter or as a developing relationship that leads to an ever deeper and deeper mental and heart awareness - is to receive a revelation about Him. And whilst there is always a 'sense' of who He is in the subconscious of every man and woman, to be compehended it must break the surface of our consciousness so that we can begin to 'see' and 'touch' with our spirit. And to break the surface of our consciousness, that knowing has to be drawn upwards, as it were, like a fisherman grappling with a fish in the depths of the water which is at first invisible but whose presence is detected by a 'tugging' sensation on the line. That fishing line, as it were, by which we attempt to bring our awareness of God to the surface of our consciousness, is called the 'spirit of truth'. It allows that aspect of God, rendered visible to the beholder, to be described in an accurate format as He who is 'One' (echad) and who exists, we are told, as the Elohim of Israel - a Being who desires that our spirits be openly responsive to Him. This first event of 'opening' - and all subsequent events that lead to intimate encounters - occur not when we desire such things but only when we are responsive enough for the encounter to have any meaning. What this means is that God reveals Himself at the proper time, and this when He creates within us an open mind and spirit. For were God to reveal Himself at the wrong time, when we are not receptive, He would be seen and understood in the wrong way and our relationship to Him would be crippled. Only the Adversary (Satan) tries to reveal Him presumptuously, and always in such a way as to insert a big Lie about who He really is.
That moment in time when our mind, heart and spirit are properly open creates a capacity within us to receive a true revelation of Him through His Word. Before this time the Word - the Bible - remains as a closed book, and all attempts to understand it will fail, no matter how intellectually flexible and clever that mind is. God's mind is not apprehended by mere intellectual processes. He is known only when the heart is properly opened and the first breaths of Eternal Life are breathed within it. And when that happens, pure sacred words within the Tanakh spring into life, not because those words are the first principle of revelation, but because they clothe in mental images that which has already been revealed to our spirits. The words of the Tanakh are not the revelation itself - they are the glove that gives mental substance to the spiritual reality and emotional connections which is the hand of God's spiritual presence. As that presence or Shekinah is clothed with sacred words so we are permitted to enter the heavenly sphere with all the faculties of our being and to begin to see Him as He really is.
The most profound and potent revelation of God given in word form is Shem haMeyuchad which in the Hebrew means 'His Unique Name'. That Name, which is spelled out in four Hebrew letter consonants - Yod-Heh-Waw-Heh (YHWH) - is known as the Tetragrammaton or 'four consonants'. This vowelless word expresses God's BEING. This Word - the most important Word that there is, and one which Satan has deliberately sought to conceal or pervert with such mutilations as 'Jehovah', expresses God's nature and existence. Thus He revealed Himself to the prophet Isaiah and King David:
"I am YHWH (Yahweh), that is My Name: and My glory [of the Name] will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images" (Isa.42:8). "That men may know that Thou, whose Name alone is YHWH, art El Elyon (the Most High God) over all the earth" (Ps.83:18).
The word YHWH is the principle from which flow all cognomens or other so-called names. What this means is that of all the other Names given in Torah there is no expression that includes the truth of His existence other than by His Name YHWH (which in English we wrongly translate as 'LORD'). Thus when God is described, for instance, and especially, as YHWH-Elohim, it is a statement which interprets His action as 'Elohim', a word which we inadequately translate as 'God' and which initially in the Tanakh is used in combination with His Name YHWH to describe His uniplural activity in the Creation events described in Genesis as a 'Godhead'. If YHWH describes God's being then YHWH-Elohim describes God's creative activity.
YHWH, we must constantly remember, is God's self-designated Name as a definitive and absolute declaration. There is no other word that describes Him so absolutely, not even Yah'shua (Yeshua, Y'shua, Yehoshua, Jesus) which contains an abbreviated form of YHWH, 'YH' (Yah), which is the revelation of YHWH in the flesh as a human being. Accordingly we must honour what He declares as a memorial and testimony, respectively, in saying 'YHWH'. This means that we must not force any other names on Him. The holy Name YHWH (Yahweh) is alone sufficient and should be honoured as the 'ultimate' Name, as it were. Nothing preceeds YHWH for it declares that He is increate or 'uncreated'. Nothing predates Him! He is the self-existent uncaused Being of all beings.
All other 'names', which would include YHWH-Elohim, Yah'shua, Shaddai, Tzeva'ot, and Adonai ('Lord') denote YHWH's activity, the outcome of His activities in time and space, but they do not declare His Existence! YHWH (haShem - 'The Name') declares that His Name existed before anything was created. YHWH alone is Creator. He has the pre-eminence as our Father-Creator. He contained - and in a way still contains - the rest of the Elohim, who are those who wrought or executed the works of creation empowered by YHWH. He is not, as the false Gnostic teachers teach, some lesser 'angel' or 'Demiurge'; nor is YHWH some inferior name to 'Jesus' as the United Pentecostals blasphemously teach.
The Basis of All True Faith
The basis of all true faith (Heb. emanah) is that there exists 'One' (echad) who proceeds every being, including Yah'shua (Jesus) and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), both in the heavenly and earthly spheres, who alone bestows existence upon all and and will carry all things to their intended and predestined end. The Name YHWH determines everything and anything connected to the sphere of the Divine. All Names applied to YHWH translate different aspects of His activity, manifestation, and creative acts. Nothing can or ever will provoke disagreement. Simply put, the Tetragrammaton (Y-H-W-H) expresses the totality of His existence.
The First Creative Activity of YHWH
There was a 'time' when YHWH alone existed. He was neither Husband, Father, Creator nor any other designation, because He had neither Wife nor Son, nor had He created anything outside Himself such as our universe and solar system. His first creation was not actually a 'creation' at all but a 'division', 'separation' or 'emanation'. YHWH is God. Whatever emanates from Him remains God, but whatever is 'created' is external to God and is not God.
The story of Adam and Eve illustrates this principle. When Adam was created He was made from the dust of the earth and YHWH breathed life into him. But He did not create Eve in the same way. She was not created out of dust and breathed into. If she had been she would not have been Adam. She would not have been his wife. Rather, Eve was derived or taken from Adam. YHWH did not breathe the breath of life into her. Though Eve had a separate, external existence from Adam, she was an emanation or derivation of Adam. Therefore Eve remained Adam but as an external manifestation of him with the power of independent will and thought. This truth is expressed in the makeup of the sex chromosomes of man (where X is female, and Y is male): that of man (Adam) being XY and that of woman (Eve) being XX. Woman is female man - man is male man. Woman is derived from man. Thus woman is eternally married to man, as female principle is eternally united to male principle.
In the beginning was YHWH. He was, and is, eternally the El or Eloah (God). He was, and is, male. Male (XY) contains female (XX). The 'creation' or derivation of Eve from Adam is a picture on our plane of existence of the 'creation' or derivation of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the uniplural echad Wife of YHWH. She is the spirit of YHWH, the means by which He extends His activity into all that He creates. She is not created, for if she were, she would be a 'goddess' in Her own right as an independent power. Yet She remains YHWH for She is an extension of Him, as Eve is an extension of Adam, and woman is an extension of man. With the appearance of this Bosom Companion, the Elohim came into existence. This word Elohim is the plural of El or Eloah (God) and can mean 'gods'. However, YHWH is 'One' or Echad. With the 'creation' of the Ruach (Spirit) YHWH becomes both Eloah (One) and Elohim (Many). This is what is meant by Echad and why in the creation of the universe and of man in the Genesis account YHWH is described in plural terms - "Let us make man in our image" (Gen.1:26). Who is creating in this passage? It is Elohim, which is God in plurality. Elohim is at very minimum YHWH and His Wife the Ruach (Spirit). And when He declares, "Let us" He is not talking to just Himself - one or more 'Elohim' are being spoken to. God at this point is Uniplural - One and Many. This is the Echad (Oneness) principle of the Godhead.
At what point did YHWH become a 'Father' and the Ruach (Spirit) become a 'Mother'? When they had a Son. And that Son is Yah'shua (Jesus) who is, and was, and always shall be Elohim (God) also. The Name of the Son - Yah'shua - means the salvation of Yah, that is, 'the saving agent of Yahweh'. He is described as the 'only begotten Son' (Jn.1:17; Heb.11:17), meaning that there are no other 'sons' like Him. He is the unique offspring of YHWH and the Ruach. As we shall see presently, we too are the offspring of YHWH (Ac.17:29), and therefore elohim, though in a very different way - for whilst YHWH, the Ruach and Yah'shua are Elohim, we, along with the angels, are, or will be, elohim with a lower case 'e'.
The Heavenly Throne
Because YHWH is Sovereign King, there is a Heavenly Throne upon which the Heavenly King sits and from which He rules the Cosmos. On His right hand sits the Son (Ac.2:33; Heb.10:12), indicating that Yah'shua is the #2 in the Godhead in terms of authority. The Heavenly Throne is far superior to all earthly thrones, differing from them inasmuch as it signifies sovereign powers which earthly thrones do not have, a righteousness which these thrones do not know, for His Throne establishes all true righteousness. YHWH alone establishes the rules and laws. As it is written: "righteousness and justice are the foundation of His (YHWH's) Throne" (Ps.97:2, NIV). "He rules forever by His power" (Ps.66:7, NIV) and "He rules over the nations" (Ps.22:28, NIV). As 'King of the Universe', YHWH desires His Name to be known as a memorial in all generations: Yah (Ps.68:4; Is.12:2; 26:4; 38:11) as King and Judge reigns throughout all the history of earth's time and prior to every creation. Judge and Ruler are equal synonymous terms. "He will rule the world justly and its people in faithfulness" (Ps.9:8). As Creator He centrally rules over the heavens and over every universe. The so called pantheon of 'gods' (elohim) cannot champion Him! "Beside Him there is no other" (Dt.4:35,39; Is.44:8; Joel 2:27; Mk.12:32). The entire Universe is centred in One who sits upon the Throne, Who alone, haElohim (The Elohim) is Creator, Father, and Saviour of all.
Those About His Throne
Whilst YHWH alone is on the Throne, there is more to YHWH, the Ruach, and the Son in the Throne Room, for we read of an assembled convocation numerous times in the Tanakh. These are known as "ministering spirits" or "spirits of service" (Heb.1:14), the administrators of the will of YHWH. They act on behalf of Him and constitute the eternally present elohim. They are always ready as a delegated authority to do all His will. These 'heavenly beings' are given several descriptive titles and are commonly known as the 'holy ones' (kedoshim), His 'hosts' (tseva'ot), and 'angels' (melakhim), better translated into English as 'messengers', 'mighty ones' (geborim), 'divine beings' (benei elim), and 'sons of God' (benei Elohim). Collectively they are known as elohim or 'gods', the same word used of the Godhead (Elohim) and the God (haElohim). However, 'God' is not a name! It is therefore inaccurate to call YHWH or the Elohim, 'God', even though it has become virtually habitual with English speakers. 'God' is a title that can refer to both YHWH, the Godhead, and the angelic hosts, as well (as we shall see) as to the judges of Israel and the redeemed amongst men and women.
Strictly speaking, Elohim or 'God' are the divine powers or representative powers of YHWH which complement YHWH as Divine Sovereign. As such, then, the elohim act, speak, or manifest as YHWH, and are tied to the collective Name, YHWH-Elohim (KJV "LORD God"). The Elohim are YHWH's divine governing partners - from Yah'shua and the Ruach (Spirit) to the angels and redeemed of YHWH (the elohim).
As terrible armies of the Divine Warrior YHWH they act for Him against Satan, his demons, and his human allies (Ex.15:3; Is.10:21). In Genesis 32:2 Jacob says: "This is a camp (army) of Elohim". In Egypt, "He (YHWH) unleashed on them His hot anger, His wrath, indignation and hostility - a band of destroying angels ('messengers')" (Ps.78:49). These bands of elohim constitute YHWH's armies (Job 25:3).
They are the "Assembly" or 'Council of the Holy Ones" (Ps.89:6,8), the "divine assembly" (82:1) and "the court of heaven" (Dan.7:10). It is our destiny as the faithful ones of YHWH to join "the church (assembly) of the firstborn" (Heb.12:23, NIV) when this life is over. It is always clear in Scripture who is 'Head' of the assembled elohim. Imagery authenticates reality as literal presentations. In most cases truth becomes true (to us) when it is discerned and extremely obvious as when the "spirit of truth" (Jn.14:17; 1 Jn.4:6) makes truth alive to the spirit of the presence of some great truth!
And so it is we read:
"The elohim stand in the congregation (assembly, church) of YHWH and He (YHWH) judges in the midst of the elohim" (Ps.82:1).
In other words, YHWH judges their rule or governing power,
"Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad ... at the Presence of YHWH. For He shall come to judge the earth. He judges the world (its inhabitants) in righteousness. And the people with His truth" (Ps.96:11-13). "Who in the heavens is comparable to YHWH? Who among the elohim (sons of the mighty) is like YHWH? He is greatly feared in the company of the holy ones, awesome above all those around Him. O YHWH-Elohim of Hosts (Tseva'ot), who is like You, O Yah?" (Ps.89:6-8).
The Hebrew Bible shows imagery of YHWH as a King enthroned and encompassed by powerful beings who serve and function as His stewards to manage His affairs as royal administrators. They serve not in obligation, but as those who know the secrets of Him who sits enthroned; and as the elohim they influence mankind's affairs according to the divinely intended purpose of YHWH-Elohim. Yah'shua (Jesus) stands at the head of all the elohim, YHWH being the head of Yah'shua. All the elohim, like those on earth, must, since the atonement, approach YHWH through Him, being the bridge between the Uncreated and the Created - Son of YHWH and Son of Man, Son of God and Son of Adam.
The Tanakh records many Council sessions. The decisions made are joint ones, as of a royal household, which are then ratified by YHWH. An example of this is seen in Isaiah 41:21-14 that records a bombastic summons issued thus:
"Present your case," says YHWH, "Set forth your arguments," says Jacob's King. "Bring in [your idols] to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, sot that we know you are elohim (gods). Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable" (NIV).
Other examples of YHWH-Elohim speaking to His Assembly is seen in Genesis 1:26 saying, "Let us make man in our image," and in 3:22, "the man has become like one of us". And in 11:7, "Let us go down." The 'us' here is bold communicative plural and where YHWH-Elohim grants status to them but never in a sense that the attendant beings (elohim) are equal to Him. They know the awesomeness of Him whom they serve in reverential fear and awe, and are pleased to do His will.
The Tanakh records visits to YHWH's Throne Room by many prophets. During these visionary experiences, they see members of a heavenly Council. Some of these visits are recorded by Micaiah (1 Ki.22:19-23), Isaiah (ch.6), Daniel (7:9-14), Zecharaiah (ch.3), and Job (ch.1-2). And one thing you will note is that whilst Satan (Heb. haSatan = the Adversary) is an enemy, he is still depicted as a servant of YHWH who is in rebellion. It is for this reason that Satan has access to the Council.
The idea that the word we translate as 'God' is actually a Council rests uncomfortably with those educated to believe in Godhead doctrines which view Elohim as no more than 'Father, Son and Holy Ghost'. And whilst it is true that there is a 'God-head' consisting of a Triumvirate, the Biblical concept of 'God' or 'Elohim' is much wider and is seen to be a hierarchy consisting of Yahweh - El Elyon, the Most High God - who is the one true 'God', with the Ruach (Spirit) at His side as sevenfold Divine Mother, and His executor, Yah'shua (Jesus), beneath which (for now) are the angels, and beneath them (for now) the redeemed from amongst men and women, themselves divided into 144,000 of the elect, and beneath them 'all the rest'. These together constitute the Elohim or what we (wrongly) translate into English as 'God', thus making no distinction between haElohim - the Elohim (Yahweh) and 'the Elohim' (all the rest together).
That Yahweh is also collectively represents all the Elohim as haElohim is shown in Exodus 24 when Moses, Aaron and the elders of Israel all saw 'God' on Mount Sinai:
"And they saw haElohim of Israel; and there was under His feet, as it were, a work of paved sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness. And Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel and also saw haElohim and ate and drank, yet He did not stretch out His hand against the chiefs of Yisra'el" (Ex.24:10-11, literal trans. from Hebrew).
Here you will notice that haElohim is described as a singular Person though some commentators have tried to show that haElohim here is the Council and not Yahweh Himself. This is confuted by the fact that at the beginning of the chapter the Elders of Israel are called to climb the mountain to visit with Yahweh (v.1) and that only Moses was permitted to approach Yahweh (v.2) personally. How is it then, that only Moses was allowed to approach Yahweh and the others not, yet the others were able to see haElohim? Was the Council present as well? We are forced to conclude that the Elders saw Yahweh from a distance but only Moses was allowed to approach Him directly. The Council was not present.
The 'Council argument' is advocated by those who wish us to note those scriptures which say that God is invisible and that no man can see Him and live. Who, then, did Moses and the Elders see?
This page was created on 15 February 2004
Last updated on 15 February 2004
Copyright © 1987-2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved