Is the Lord Jesus Christ the Jehovah of the OT?
We must always use extreme care when making pronouncements about the “man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2: 5), for the Lord Himself indicated that there is much about His person that must ever remain beyond us (see Matt. 11: 27). Theologians, in their human wisdom, imagine that they have worked out a great deal, but the man of God is shut up to the revelation that God has given in the Scriptures. There is priceless value in what God has told us; there is no value at all in what man has thought. We know nothing without God, yet with God, we can know everything we need to know.
It was said of John the Baptist: “this is he who has been spoken of through Esaias the prophet, saying, Voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of [the] Lord, make straight his paths” (Matt. 3: 3). The OT passage from which this is quoted reads “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make straight in the desert a highway for our God!” (Is. 40: 3, my emphasis; see also Mal. 3: 1). Since John prepared the way for the Christ, the logic seems inescapable that the Lord Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same. The present writer gladly acquiesces with this conclusion, but would add that what is true is not necessarily the whole truth. Discovering a Scripture that supports a particular line of thinking does not settle the matter. We must consider the divine revelation as a whole (see 2 Pet. 1: 20).
At the beginning of His public ministry, the Lord Jesus came to the synagogue in Nazareth and read from Is. 61: 1–2, saying to those listening “To–day this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4: 21). Now this prophecy speaks about One who anointed the Lord to preach that day. What does Isaiah say? “Jehovah hath anointed me to announce glad tidings unto the meek” (Is. 61: 1, my emphasis). The Lord Jesus Christ was thus Jehovah’s servant (see Is. 49: 5, 6; 53: 10–12), who came to Israel “in the name of [the] Lord” (or Jehovah, Luke 19: 38; compare also with Ps. 118: 26 and John 12: 13). It can now be seen that our first conclusion, namely that the Lord Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same, while true, is far from being the whole truth. Scripture also teaches that the Lord Jesus came forth into this world as the servant of Jehovah: “Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect [in whom] my soul delighteth! I will put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the nations ... I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will take hold of thy hand; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations” (Is. 42: 1, 6; see also Matt. 12: 18–21).
There is more. It has already been shown that the Lord Jesus Christ and Jehovah are one and the same, and that He is also Jehovah’s servant (both conclusions based largely on quotations from Isaiah). However, Isaiah also records the children of Israel speaking very distinctly about Jehovah being their father: “thou, Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer, from everlasting, is thy name … And now, Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand” (Is. 63: 16; 64: 8). Thus Jehovah is Israel’s Father in two ways: firstly as the One who made them (comp. Rom. 9: 21), and secondly as the One who bought them back (or redeemed them). Hence in Isaiah 43: 1 we read “But now thus saith Jehovah, that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called [thee] by thy name; thou art mine” (my emphasis). Now the Lord Jesus is both the creator and the redeemer, and he is also Jehovah, but is He ever presented as being Israel’s Father? No—what we have instead is a parallel drawn between Israel’s sonship and His own sonship (compare Hosea 11: 1 and Matthew 2: 15). Thus while Jehovah is said to be Israel’s Father, the Lord Jesus is not.
There is a great danger of reasoning too much on Scripture, and attempting to provide solutions to matters that will always be incomprehensible to us. We have been given a revelation and our responsibility first and foremost is to believe it, even when we have difficulty in understanding it. The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus is both Jehovah and also distinct from Jehovah and our place as creatures is to receive such a divine revelation. A parallel can be drawn from John 1: 1: “In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. To the human mind, such a Scripture is contradictory and illogical: the Word is both God and yet distinct from God. To one occupied with the truth, it is simply a question of believing what God has said. Thus while the Lord Jesus is unquestionably the Jehovah of the OT, He is also Jehovah’s servant.