By Ike T. Sidebottom
We shall begin where the Word begins. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This is the first known truth concerning Him. Before He began to create, He was there. The inspired record is simply this: “In the beginning God.” We have no record of either how He came to be, or when He came into existence. God, in revealing Himself to man, leaves us with only one possible scriptural conclusion as to His origin; and that is, that He has always been. He is the uncreated, self-existing One.
The inspired record concerning the origin and being of man is an entirely different one. He originated in the mind of God, and was made, or formed, by the hand of God. He is one of God’s creatures. Indeed, he is the very highest of God’s creatures because he was made in the image and likeness of the Creator Himself. The record is found in Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-27 along with chapter 2, verses 7 and 21-22.
“And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle, and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. … And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. … And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.”
These two: the man and the woman, being one flesh and one bone, were given one name. God “called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Genesis 5:2). With this mere glimpse of God, and of man whom He created, let us pass on to the study of a few of the titles which God has given unto Himself, which bear upon both God’s revelation of Himself to man, and also His relationship with man.
We go back to the opening verse in the Bible, and to these words, “In the beginning God.” The title “God” is, in the original language, “Elohim” plural. Under this title He reveals Himself as the great Creator. Under the same title, He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” This reveals both his plurality and His relationship to man.
God’s use of this plural title is the foundation of the scriptural teaching concerning the Holy Trinity. Even though, the term “trinity” is not found in the scriptures, it is many times over revealed that the God of creation is the triune God. For instance, in Ephesians 1:17, He reveals Himself as the Father of glory. In Romans 1:3-4, we see “The Son of God with power.” In Hebrews 9:14, “The eternal Spirit” is revealed. All three persons of the Godhead were present when Jesus was baptized with water. We are told in Matthew 3:16-17, that the “Spirit of God” descended; the Father’s voice was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son.”
It should not be considered a strange thing that God should eternally exist in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is nothing more than three divine persons in the one God. It is a compound unity, one made up of others. Such a unity is quite often found in the Holy Scriptures. For instance, in Genesis 2:24, one is made up of two; the man and his wife became “One flesh.” So it is with the body of Christ, in 1 Corinthians 12:27, we have the inspired record, “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” The one “Body of Christ” has many, many individual members, but the body remains one organism, a compound unity. The triune God oftentimes reveals Himself to His own in one person.
For instance, He once addressed His chosen nation, through His servant Moses, saying, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” The title “LORD” is, in the original language, JEHOVAH. As God (Elohim) is God the Creator of all things; so the LORD (Jehovah) is the same God in covenant relationship with the man whom He created. All the covenants of the Bible are between “The LORD God” and man; and they all climax with the “New covenant” in Christ’s blood. Over and over, the LORD (Jehovah) made Himself visible to His people.
In Genesis chapter 17, verses 1 to 8, God made His appearance to Abraham according to these words:
“And when Abraham was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And l will make my covenant between me and thee; and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
This everlasting covenant, which was first made between God and Noah, and the sons of Noah and was confirmed unto Abraham, is finally climaxed with the “Everlasting Covenant” of Hebrews 13:20, where we are told that “The God of peace … brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” We need to remember that all the covenants are between God and His people, who are classified in various families other than the body of Christ. We have no record of God ever entering into covenant relationship with the church, which is His body.
As the covenant keeping God, the LORD (Jehovah) always worked in behalf of His people. He helped them over many hard places and on many different occasions, He made Himself known unto them as the Deliverer from some enemy that was too strong for them. This reminds us of the Lord’s undertaking in behalf of Joshua and the people of Israel when they faced the walled city of Jericho. The story is written as follows:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand; and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out and none came in. And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 5:13-15 and 6:1-5)
This same LORD appeared to Moses “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush,” and said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My People which are in Egypt … and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large land, unto a land flowing with milk and honey … Come thou therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh that thou mayest bring forth My People, the children of Israel out of Egypt … Certainly I will be with thee. … And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say unto me, what is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, thus shall thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. … The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Exodus 3:2-15).
Christ, The I Am
Certainly the LORD (Jehovah) here manifested Himself to Moses as the LORD God of the fathers, and at the same time revealed Himself as the “I AM.” It is highly significant that Christ also referred to Himself as the “I AM.” Indeed, in John’s gospel account alone, Christ is set forth seven different times as the “I AM” of the Scriptures:
- “I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35)
- “I AM the light of the world” (John 8:12)
- “I AM the door” (John 10:9)
- “I AM the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
- “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
- “I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)
- “I AM the true vine” (John 15:1, 5)
Christ, The Creator
The eternal triune God (Elohim) is the Creator, yet we are told that He created all things as the Word. This truth is brought out in the gospel according to John chapter 1, verses 1-3 and 14:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”
Certainly the “Word” was God, the Creator of all things, and we are positive that this One also was “Made flesh and dwelt among us.” This could be none other than God (Elohim) working as the “One LORD” the eternal Son. In like manner, He is set forth in Colossians 1:15-19, as the One “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” and as the One by Whom all things were created, even all things
“That are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.”
In this last quotation, God, the Creator of all things, became the Head of an entirely new creation, which is described as “the body, the church.” To this company of saints, God is described in Ephesians 1:3-12 as:
“The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved. In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded unto us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him; in Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
A Word of Warning
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:8-9)
The risen Christ, in Whom “The fulness of the Godhead” dwelleth, is our “All in all.”
We have been “Chosen” in Him. God hath “Predestinated us unto the adoption of children” by Him. We have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” In Him “We have obtained an inheritance.” In Him we are “Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” We have been “Quickened” together with Him. We have been “Raised up together” with Him. We are now made to “Sit together in heavenly places” in Him. Soon we shall be glorified with Him: for “We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). Hallelujah! What a Saviour!