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Would the Torah G-d approve of the New Testament god in human form?

January 13, 2014

Jesus

When G-d gave His Torah to the Jewish people, He emphasized in the strongest terms that He had no form of any kind. Indeed, He reminded them that when Israelites witnessed His glory firsthand, they saw no physical form to G-d, no likeness that could be physically represented. He knew full well that the nations all around Israel imagined their gods in the form of men, women as well as animals of all sorts. And while other created spiritual beings, like angels, sometimes took on various forms and even appeared as men acting on G-d’s orders or delivering G-d’s message, G-d  Himself was an invisible Spirit and looked nothing like the creatures He created. What’s more, G-d wanted to make this abundantly clear to all of mankind and had Moses write the following warning down for all posterity:

You saw no form of any kind the day the L-RD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman… (Deuteronomy 4:15-16)

“You saw no form of any kind”, G-d emphasized, warning of great corruption to imagine differently. When the Hebrew Bible anthropomorphically speaks of the hand of G-d, for example, it does not imply an actual fleshy hand like that of a man – rather, it’s a purely spiritual concept. G-d commanded Israelites to watch themselves very carefully in this regard. However, when Christianity burst onto the scene more than a thousand years after the great Sinai event, sweeping through the Greco-Roman world where demigods (semi-divine heroes born to gods and humans) were ubiquitous and Roman emperors were deified and worshiped, this explicit warning was discarded. Christianity declared that this same Jewish G-d, who in the Torah was so emphatic that He had no visible physical shape, especially that of a man, and warned that to imagine Him with a human or other form would lead to idolatry, decided to take on a literal physical form of a man after all. Even though in Numbers 23:19 G-d has declared that He was “not a man” or a “son of man”, Christianity presented a G-d who has changed His mind, ignored His own words, and chose to take on a shape of a human being, to become both – “a man” and “a son of man”.

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible G-d, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature G-d, did not consider equality with G-d something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7)

The Word was G-d…and became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:1-14).

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Prophet Isaiah, however, asks a rhetorical question:

With whom, then, will you compare G-d? To what image will you liken him? (Isaiah 40:18)

If, as Christianity teaches, G-d has indeed appeared in a form of man Jesus, if G-d has become flesh as the Gospel of John proclaims, we can finally answer Isaiah’s question – we can liken G-d to an image of a man. If through the birth of Jesus G-d took on a form of a man, we can say, to quote Philippians 2:5-7, that G-d has acquired human likeness. With Jesus, from now and into all eternity, Christianity teaches, G-d will always exist as both a spiritual deity and a human being with a definite physical form of a 30+ year old male. Protestants often condemn Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians for creating and venerating statues and images of Jesus (and other NT characters). However, they should ask themselves whether this form of idolatry, which they rightly condemn, is actually the direct result of ignoring G-d’s clear warning in His Law not to imagine Him in a form of a human being or any other creature. If Jesus is an image of the invisible G-d (as Colossians 1:15-17 proclaim), then Protestants are just as guilty of worshiping an image instead of the Creator!

Friends, we should always remember that the G-d of Israel doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He doesn’t change His mind, He doesn’t change His very essence to become both deity and man, nor does He contradict Himself and this is the message the Jewish people still stubbornly proclaim to the world to this day.  The nations of the world have inherited from their forefathers falsehoods that are of no benefit to them; they created, glorify, exalt, sing praises and bow their knees to a god in their own image. But this god in a form of a mortal human being is not a god at all, and one day they will realize this (Jeremiah 16:19-20). Let us not ignore G-d’s clear warnings at our own peril and give His glory to another.

If you are a Jewish Christian/Messianic Jew or a Gentile Christian who has become bothered about idolatry of worshiping a man as god and has questions that need answers, you can contact me privately at jewishthoughts@gmail.com

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2014 5:11 pm

    In the Tenach HaShem Himself chose to appear in human form on multiple occasions. Gene, I fear you’ve also been affected by pagan Xenophanes.

  2. January 15, 2014 6:17 pm

    Charles, when G-d warns that He has no physical form, especially that of a man, I believe Him, as do my fellow Jews. You reject G-d’s clear warning and that’s why you have fallen into idolatrous worship of a dead 1st century Jewish man.

    Besides, what are you trying to show here? Christianity doesn’t even claim that G-d has actually had human or any other physical form until the birth of Jesus, when as NT claims, G-d became flesh. Having a physical form to G-d would be a miracle never before seen in the Bible. Unless, of course, you would like us to count angelic or human messengers as G-d, or anthropomorphic Biblical uses of “G-d’s hand” or “face of G-d” as actual physical hands and face.

    Also, in your paper you linked to, you rail against Islamic and supposed Jewish anti-anthropomorphism. However, you’ve constructed and attacked a straw man. Biblical anthropomorphism (that is to speak of G-d as if having a face, hands, feet, feelings and emotions we normally attribute to humanity) is a far cry from Christianity’s idolatrous departure from the Bible in declaring that G-d literally has divided Himself to become a human being, literally took on flesh, literally became tired, literally became confused and literally died. It’s one thing to “attribute” a human-like characteristic to G-d as a literary device, and quite another to declare that G-d has become a man and has acquired a literal, walking, eating, sleeping physical human form and then to worship that form, which even the NT itself calls “an image of G-d”, in place of the actual G-d.

  3. January 18, 2014 6:22 pm

    Incidentally, it is mistaken to claim Christians worship the human form, the human body and soul of the Messiah in and of themselves – they are the Tabernacle of HaShem, the place of the Shekinah. Did Israel worship the Altar, or the Tabernacle, or the Ark, rather the Inhabitant and Possessor of the Throne that is placed between the cherubim?

  4. January 18, 2014 7:20 pm

    Charles, Christians worship a man Jesus as G-d, who they claim to be also a 100% man. It’s futile semantics to argue which part of this human / deity, which Christians consider one of the unique persons of a three person Trinity, they worship. If he is fully human like us (in addition to being G-d), as Christians insist, he has a human soul as well in addition to G-d’s spirit. (As I type it, I reflect on how utterly absurd and unbiblical such thinking is).

    Israelites never considered the Altar, Tabernacle or and Ark as G-d or its own person. They were inanimate holy objects and not persons. They themselves were never worshiped. Jesus the man IS considered to be G-d and he has own unique personhood. Neither the Altar, Tabernacle or the Ark were ever claimed to have prayed to G-d on their own, to have independent will or that they had a will to choose. It’s absurd to compare those items to Jesus, whom Christians worship in addition to G-d, as if they are some equivalents.

    Those holy items were never worshiped – Jesus, a mortal man, was and is worshiped. If those holy items were worshiped in the manner Jesus was and is, they would be called idols, even if they were considered otherwise sacred and even used by G-d. Indeed, when the brazen snake Moses set up, through which G-d healed at one point, became an idol of worship, it was destroyed because it became an idol (2 Kings 18:4). Jesus, in John 3:14, likened himself to that same brazen snake – which I think is quite ironic, considering that it was later destroyed for becoming an object of worship.

  5. January 19, 2014 9:27 am

    Disappointed to see you haven’t yet posted the main note to which the supplement was added, Gene. Christians worship God in His Word, the Word which tabernacled in the flesh, the Son pre-existed the incarnation.
    You know this tenet, but you’re choosing not to listen and I’m afraid that’s a sign of a seared conscience.

  6. January 19, 2014 9:47 am

    “the Son pre-existed the incarnation”

    Charles, who does the Hebrew Bible and G-d Himself say is G-d’s firstborn son?

    “You know this tenet, but you’re choosing not to listen and I’m afraid that’s a sign of a seared conscience.”

    Charles, if you’ll choose to persist in your psychoanalysis of me instead of calmly discussing matters without personalizing them (e.g. questioning my morals or conscience), I will be forced to prevent you from using my blog as your evangelistic platform.

  7. January 19, 2014 5:38 pm

    An excellent question, and Who personifies Israel the wrestler and prevailer with God, more than anyone else? Is it not He Who will Himself bring wayward Israel back to God? Isa.45.3,5,6.

  8. January 19, 2014 5:41 pm

    The post you so far haven’t posted, though regrettably without the links:

    Dear Gene, the dead idol is your own and is shared with Plotinus and Xenophanes.
    It is pure neo-Platonism to claim that God has no form.

    It is not the teaching of the Tenach and it is no the teaching of the New Testament either. There is all the difference in the world between interdicting the making of an image by man and revealing Himself in an image of His appointment. HaShem does not say He has ‘no similitude’ (תְּמוּנָה), He warns Israel has not seen anything but His fire. Moses we’re told explicitly saw His תְּמוּנָה – Nu 12:8 – though not fully or without veiling.

    As to the meticulous documentation of an ‘anthropomorphism’ in Gen 18, of how HaShem had fellowship in human form with Abraham, the texts speak eloquently and decisively. It is HaShem you are fighting.

  9. January 19, 2014 6:15 pm

    And the answer to my question:

    “This is what the L-RD says: Israel is my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22)

    Christianity, in its overarching theme of replacing everything and anything that is Israel, from the Law to the people of G-d, with its own substitutes, declared its demigod as G-d’s firstborn son. And so we come to the absurdity and mockery created by the new religion of G-d Himself being His own firstborn son! But it doesn’t stop at replacement. This new religion fully expects the real firstborn son (Israel) to worship the demigod in addition to the G-d they already know, all the while causing unspeakable horrors to the Jewish people in the name of their divine “firstborn” substituted man-god.

    Let’s examine the absurdity further. If Jesus, as you claim and as much of Christianity declares, is a “one-man Israel” or “Israel personified”, then Israel (the Jewish people) is expected to bow their knees, place their trust in and worship the personification of itself, Israel personified (a.k.a. Jesus)! However, the NT tells us that Jesus himself worshiped G-d and even called him “my G-d”, but Christianity wants us to worship this Jewish man as G-d, someone who himself prayed to and relied on G-d. It is little wonder that “believing” is the most important aspect of Christianity.

  10. January 19, 2014 6:51 pm

    The real demi-god here is one stripped of His attributes, as Maimonides recommends.

    My references should have been Isa.49.3,5,6 not 45.

    ‘And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
    Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
    And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
    And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.’

  11. January 20, 2014 7:39 pm

    If you read Isaiah 49 in context instead of reading NT and Jesus back into it, it is not about the demigod at all and tellingly mentions nothing of any messiah or any future king (especially one who died, accomplished nothing a Jewish messiah must, and in whose name Jews were murdered by his followers, instead of being brought back and restored). This is because it is a message about a very specific time period in prophet’s ministry and Israel’s history. It is about the consolation of the suffering nation of Israel during the time it was exiled to Babylon. G-d confirms Israel as His Servant, and promises that it will once again be regathered. Then, G-d speaks to the disheartened prophet Isaiah and his mission of hope to his fellow Jews exiled to Babylon and the role the prophet would play and did play in their soon return from there.

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