Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Nicene Creed (Box 2a)

The Box

(a) Exodus 3:13-14 - Moses said to God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’ ”

Not having been raised among his own people, Moses is ignorant of their God’s name and fears he will lack credibility with the Israelites. God’s proper name, disclosed in the verse 15, is YHVH (spelled “yod-heh-vav-heh” in Hebrew; in ancient times the “vav” was pronounced “w”). But here God first tells Moses its meaning: “I Will Be What I Will Be,” meaning “My nature will become evident from my actions.”

Yahweh was not identified with nature, Yahweh transcended nature; and Yahweh wasn’t known through nature or natural phenomena. Yahweh was known through history, events and a particular relationship with a man, which Yahweh formed from the dust of the earth.
Then God answers Moses’ question about what to say to the people: “Tell them: ‘Ehyeh’ (“I Will Be,” a shorter form of the explanation) sent me.” This explanation derives God’s name from the verb “h-v-h,” a variant form of “h-y-h,” “to be.” Because God is the speaker, he uses the first person form of the verb.

(b) The context of Isaiah, particularly in chapter 53 (Israel was the suffering servant of Yahweh).  

There have been many attempts to equate this man of sorrows with all kinds of figures. Early on, Yeshua’s followers saw Yeshua as the suffering servant of Yahweh in Isaiah. New Testament writers specifically borrowed passages from Isaiah, particularly in chapter 53, when constructing their narratives of Yeshua, taking those verses and using them in describing his story.

So Yeshua is depicted as the innocent and righteous servant who suffered for the sins of others. In the teachings of Paul, however, you have a different use of these verses. Christians, generally, are identified as the servant who suffers with and for Yeshua. Isaiah chapter 53 wasn’t talking about a remote Nazarene teacher and charismatic healer who would live more than five centuries later.

The servant is Israel herself, the punishment that Israel suffered even if excessive-that punishment isn’t meaningless, it will lead to redemption. Israel will be healed by her wounds. Israel’s suffering is serving a purpose in the divine plan, it’s necessary. Israel needs purification and redemption and that will prepare her for a new role in world history. 

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