In this newsletter we will first begin by examining the Biblical view of the I AM of Exod 3:14-15, and how the I AM is connected with the sanctuary, and with a plain reading of Scripture. In the next article we will examine how Catholicism has largely followed Jeroboam’s view of Scripture, the sanctuary, and the divine presence.
Introducing the I AM
Exod 3:14-15 reads as follows: And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’
In our previous newsletter, we disclosed that God’s name is synonymous with His presence, and that His presence is only revealed by His words. If we simply allow the words in the passage to unfold their meaning to us, then Exod 3:14-15 reveals that the I AM spoke and related to the fathers in the past. God is currently speaking to Moses in the present, and that His name is forever and His memorial is to all generations, meaning the future.
There are several major implications we can draw from this observation.
First, just like the ocean contains all of the countless varieties of marine life and is broader than all of the life forms found therein, the I AM constitutes the broadest of all possible categories of reality. Furthermore, in order for life forms to exist in the ocean, they must be compatible with water. Once those marine animals are removed from their environment, it’s not long before they die. Thus, once the environment has been defined and revealed, it must be unchangeable if the life contained in it is to survive. One cannot simply change the environment and still hope that the life contained within it will thrive. Since, the I AM of Scripture in Exod 3:14-15 interrelates with all of creation including humans, the Bible reveals that our view of all reality is directly linked to our interpretation of the I AM. Thus, Scripture’s view of the I AM as being infinitely temporal is directly compatible with human nature (since God talks with humans), and the universe.
Second, since God is infinitely temporal, He is able to communicate in human speech, which always occurs in time and space. Thus, an infinitely temporal I AM is able to communicate with a temporal Moses. The I AM is also able to relate with a temporal creation.
Third, since the I AM is synonymous with existence, eternity, and immutability, the I AM has existed eternally in the past prior to the creation of the universe in God’s own infinite spatio-temporal reality. This simply means that God has His own private reality that no one else has access to. Because the I AM is infinitely temporal, God did not undergo a fundamental change in His nature when He created the universe. The reason is that there is an analogy between God’s infinitely temporal reality and the finite reality of creation.
Thus, allowing the Bible to unfold its own meaning of the I AM integrates God’s infinite temporality with the temporality of speech, the temporal nature of humans, and the temporal nature of creation. Since the I AM is the broadest possible reality encompassing all other realities, the infinitely temporal nature of the I AM is immutable. Thus, when we examine Catholicism’s change in the interpretation of the I AM, the domino effects of that change reverberate to all of creation, our view of human nature, and our view of the nature of God’s Word and speech. The point here is that one cannot flippantly move between Scripture’s view of the I AM and Catholicism’s view. To do that would be like trying to blend an earth-centered universe with a sun centered universe. No such compromise is possible.
The I AM and the Divine Presence
Let’s now look at how the I AM relates to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Rev 1:4; 4:8; 11:17 and 16:5 include the phrase “who is and who was and who is to come.” The word “is” in “who is” which first begins the phrase is the same as the I AM of Exod 3:14. There is strong support for the Father as the One to whom the references in Rev above refer to.
The I AM of Rev 1:8 can also refer to the Son, especially when we combine it with Rev 22:13. Let’s notice the parallels.
|“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.|
|“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”||I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”|
There several other I AM passages that refer to the Son in John’s gospel such as John 8:24, 28, 59; and John 13:19. All of these references contain no predicate. For instance, John 8:24 reads, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” The word He is italicized, which means it is not in the original Greek language. Jesus is here calling attention to the fact that He is the great I AM of Exod 3:14. In John 8:58, He plainly declares, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
There are several ways in which we can connect the Holy Spirit to the I AM. As we do this, we need to take into consideration that the I AM of Exod 3:14 is synonymous with the Lord God of Exod 3:15. Thus I AM = Lord = God. Let’s compare Zech 4:10 with Rev 5:6
|They are the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth||having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.|
Here we see that the eyes of the Lord are synonymous with the seven eyes of the seven Spirits of God; and that in both cases they are sent out into all the earth. Thus the Lord is synonymous with the Holy Spirit, and thus with the I AM. Let’s compare Ezek 3:27 with Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22.
Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22
|But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.||“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”|
The Lord God who speaks is synonymous with the Spirit who speaks to the churches, and thus with the I AM.
In the Great Commission Jesus charges His disciples to baptize in the name not names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This also is undoubtedly a reference back to Exod 3:14. Let’s now compare Isa 6:8-10 with Acts 28:25-27
|Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
“Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
|So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying,
‘Go to this people and say:
“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
In Isa 6, the Lord says, Go and tell this people…while in Acts 25 it is the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophet Isaiah saying, Go to this people. Thus the Lord is synonymous with the Holy Spirit and thus with the I AM. Lastly let’s compare Psalm 95:6-11 with Heb 3:7-11.
|Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
|Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
Again, the Lord our God in Psalm 95 whose voice we should pay attention to is synonymous with the Holy Spirit who spoke in Heb 3.
Since Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all constitute the I AM, the following deductions ensue. Neither the Son, nor the Holy Spirit is derived from the Father. Such a deduction contradicts the assertion that they constitute the I AM. As a matter of fact stating or implying that they had a beginning is more compatible with I BECAME.
The I AM, the Heavenly Sanctuary, and the Divine Presence
In the remainder of this newsletter we will examine how a plain reading of Scripture and of the sanctuary leads to the conclusion that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute three separate entities but One God. In our examination of Exod 3:14-15, we discovered that allowing the passage to unfold the meaning of the I AM as compatible with time (past, present, and future) and space lays the groundwork for the temporal nature of all reality. In a similar way, the meaning of Scripture’s description of all the spatio-temporal realities associated with the sanctuary should unfold from the words that clearly refer to physical structures and should be understood as such. Hence, as an infinitely temporal Being, God is able to actually dwell in the sanctuary, which means that the temporal nature of language intersects with God’s infinite temporal Being and with the temporal nature of the articles of furniture in the sanctuary. We will now apply this principle to the way in which the sanctuary describes the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the sanctuary itself.
In Rev 4-5 the throne is mentioned 19 times, and it is the Father who occupies the throne in these two important chapters. In addition to the close association between the Father and the throne upon which He is seated, He also has a scroll in His right hand that is sealed with seven seals (Rev 5:1, 7). There is the Incarnate Christ who is symbolized by the Lamb who takes the scroll from Him so that He can open its seals and read real messages that are communicated in symbolic language (Rev 5:7, 9; 6:1-17; 8:1). The elders cast their crowns and direct their worship toward the specific location of the throne where the Father is seated and not to some ubiquitous and unidentifiable non-entity (Rev 4:9-11). Lastly, although the Spirit is symbolically described as “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” (Rev 4:5), the language implies that the Spirit is before the throne and not on it. Moreover, in Rev 5:6 the seven Spirits of God are sent out into all the earth. Thus, the language implies that the Holy Spirit is before the throne, and at the same time the Spirit is in all the earth.
The following deductions are based on the relationship between the meaning of the language employed, the heavenly sanctuary, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The language of Rev 4-5 clearly implies that there are distinguishable material entities such as a throne, a scroll, and crowns. Thus, thrones are not crowns, and neither is the scroll a throne or a crown.
- The language also clearly implies that the crowns are cast in a particular location, which is in the direction of the throne upon which the Father is seated. Thus, the language implies that the crowns, the throne, and the Father are all in the same location. The language does not imply that the crowns are everywhere, that the throne is everywhere, or that the Father is everywhere.
- The language clearly refers to three distinguishable Beings that are portrayed in different locations. The Father is on the throne, the Lamb is standing before the Father, and the Spirit is before the throne and at the same time in all the earth. Thus, since the heavenly sanctuary consists of an arrangement that distinguishes different material entities like the throne, the seven lamps, and the altar of incense that are positioned in specific locations, then by the same principle we must conclude that the heavenly sanctuary provides the framework for concluding that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indeed three separate entities since they are described by their relation to the material entities in the heavenly sanctuary. Only as we allow the language employed to unfold its meaning can we arrive at this conclusion.
In our next newsletter, we will examine how Catholicism has followed Jeroboam’s understanding of Scripture, the sanctuary, and the divine presence. Stay tuned!