The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

An Introduction to the Gods of the Bible

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube

When you’re just getting started in Christianity, or when you’ve been poorly taught by other Christians, the Bible can seem rather confusing. You might have heard that the whole Bible is about Jesus. Well, no, this is utterly ridiculous. The Christian Bible has two Testaments: Old and New. Jesus doesn’t show up until the beginning of the New Testament. The only God who is being referred to throughout the Old Testament is Yahweh, or God the Father.  All of those “Messianic prophecies” you hear about were times when Yahweh would drop hints about a coming Messiah–but no one understood that that Messiah was going to be another God.  At the same time that Yahweh spoke of the Messiah, He insisted that He was the only God in existence–that didn’t leave any room for people to assume that the Messiah would be a Divine Being.

YAHWEH

You don’t hear the Name Yahweh used much these days. You hear the Name Jehovah far more often, but this is problematic, because Jehovah is the god who the Jehovah’s Witnesses worship and he has nothing to do with the true God. Although Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be true Christians (in fact, they claim to be the only true Christians), they totally reject the Divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. To them, Jesus is merely a created being, and the Holy Spirit is just a force. Once you reject Jesus as an uncreated God, you’re on your way to Hell. To avoid confusion, we do not use the Jehovah name for God the Father. We use the Name Yahweh instead (for more about where these names come from, see Yahweh or Jehovah?).

Now God is a title, like Sir or Pastor. Jesus is a personal name, like John or Susan. Christians are in the habit of calling Jesus by His personal Name, and God the Father by a title. This makes things confusing, because when we just use titles like Lord or God, we don’t know which God we’re talking about. This is why we use the Name Yahweh so much in our material—so you can learn to start thinking of Yahweh and Jesus as the two separate Beings that They are instead of just seeing Them as one mysterious Entity.

Now Yahweh is the Jewish Name that God the Father chose for Himself when He was working with the Jews. Is God’s Name actually Yahweh? Do Jesus and Yahweh sit around in Heaven calling Themselves by the same Names we use for Them on earth? Of course not. These Names were given to us for our convenience so that we can easily distinguish between our three Creators.

What’s important for you to realize is that our three Creators are not human beings. They are a totally different kind of Being—a kind that we know very little about. So when we read in the Bible about Them appearing to people in a certain form, we shouldn’t assume that that’s what They really look like in Their natural states. In the Bible, we find our Gods appearing to people in a wide variety of forms. Some are human, some are not human. They continue to do so today. Often our Gods don’t appear in any form that we can see with our eyes. But if Jesus were to appear to you in a visible form, that form would probably look quite different than the form He would use with someone else. When They appear to people in human forms, our Gods often choose forms that match people’s cultural stereotypes. For example, an Asian man would probably see an Asian looking Jesus, whereas a black man would probably see a black Jesus. But if a black man lives in a culture which always depicts Jesus as a white man with brown hair, Jesus might appear to the black man in a way that fits that cultural stereotype if He knows it is an image that the black man is comfortable with. While both modern American and Spanish cultures depict Jesus as dressed in a tunic, the Catholic version of Jesus dresses Him in much nicer material than the non-Catholic version. The Catholic version often depicts Jesus with a “sacred heart” on His chest—a flaming heart that is encircled with a crown of thorns. If Jesus appears to a Catholic man, He would probably use the sacred heart imagery because such imagery is strongly associated with God in the man’s mind. If Jesus appears to a Baptist man, He’d probably appear without the flaming heart, because such imagery means nothing to the Baptist man. The point is this: every culture has stereotypes about what God looks like. Those stereotypes have nothing to do with reality, but they still have a strong influence on how we think, and our Gods often use those stereotypes to Their advantage when communicating with us.

In the Bible, you will find both Yahweh and Jesus showing up in forms that match Jewish stereotypes of what God is supposed to look like. Why is everything so Jewish in the Bible? Because the Bible is mainly focused on God’s interactions with the Jewish culture. If the Bible was focused on God’s interactions with Chinese people, it would be filled with Chinese metaphors and Chinese imagery and we’d be talking a lot about ancient Chinese customs and beliefs. But instead, we talk about the Jews because that’s who the Bible focuses on. Whenever we read about God working within the context of a particular culture, learning more about that culture helps us more accurately understand God’s style of communication.

Now there are three Gods: Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. (We aren’t given a personal name for the Holy Spirit in the Bible, so we always refer to Him by His title.) The Bible focuses on how these three Gods introduced Themselves to the ancient Jews. They didn’t all introduce Themselves at the same time. Yahweh went first. Yahweh is the only real God the Jews knew about for thousands of years. Yahweh is the only God being referred to in the Old Testament. Even when you find references to “the Holy Spirit” or “the Spirit of the Lord” in the Old Testament, it is a reference to Yahweh.

Now in most English translations of the Bible, you don’t find even one use of Yahweh’s personal Name, even though His Name is actually used in the original manuscripts over 6,000 times. English translators have intentionally removed the Name Yahweh from the Old Testament, and substituted it with the titles Lord and God. But happily, there is a way that you can still identify when Yahweh is being used because whenever His Name has been intentionally removed from the text, the titles that are used instead appear with miniature capitals. In the following examples, we’ve copied the text exactly as it would appear in your Bible, and we’ve highlighted in red the places where the Name of Yahweh has been replaced with a generic title for God. Notice how the letters are all capitalized whenever one of these substitutions is being made.  If you mentally substitute the Name Yahweh where we’ve highlighted in red, you’ll have a much more accurate idea of what the original author wrote.

ps 23So who is our Shepherd? Not just “God”, but Yahweh–God the Father.  This famous psalm wasn’t written with Jesus in mind, yet Jesus is the One we usually associate it with today because we’re all taught to grossly insult Yahweh by ignoring how often He alone is being referred to in the Bible.

gen 2Today, you’re taught to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity–an absurd belief that Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just mere “expressions” of a single Being.  Then you’re told that in Genesis, the Bible clearly says that multiple Gods created the universe.  Well, no, it doesn’t.  What it clearly says is that Yahweh created everything.  Notice that all caps “LORD”.  Moses wrote Genesis, and Yahweh was the only God Moses knew about, so Yahweh is the only God he credits for creating things (see Rethinking the Creation Account: Who is Elohim?).

Well, what about Jesus and the Holy Spirit?  Where were They when Yahweh was creating things?  In real life, our three Creators do everything together.  In real life, all three of Them created everything that exists, but this isn’t what the Bible says.  Contrary to what you’re taught in Church, the Bible is not a complete manual on truth.  The books of the Bible were written by humans, and those humans had only a limited understanding about God.  If Moses had known about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, he would have credited all three of Them with creating the world.  But Moses only knew about Yahweh, so Yahweh is who he talks about.

deut 6.4This is Moses talking again, and he’s telling everyone that Yahweh is the only real God.  Remember, wherever you see those all caps titles of LORD or GOD, that tells you that in the original text, the Name  Yahweh was used in those places.  You will find this substitution explained to you in the very front of your Bible–that section which no one reads which is usually found right after the table of contents.  When you buy a Bible, you should skim through those notes at least once, because publishers of your Bible will explain a lot of useful facts to you about how they’ve organized the text.

joel 1.15Sometimes you’ll hear Christian teachers talking about “the Day of the Lord”.  This is usually a negative term referring to a day when God violently disciplines people on earth.  We get this term from the Old Testament, but as you can see, it’s really “the day of Yahweh.”  When prophets speak for God in the Old Testament, they’re always speaking for Yahweh, and they use His personal Name a lot.  Today some people are very superstitious about speaking the Name of God out loud.  They say it’s disrespectful.  Well, Yahweh was a big fan of people speaking His Name out loud, so there’s no reason to avoid saying His Name today.

eze 2.4Yahweh’s personal Name often comes paired with many honorary titles in the Old Testament–titles which describe His power or authority.  For example, to be “the lord” over something in English, means you are a kind of ruler.  To be “sovereign” also makes us think of a ruler with lots of authority.  You’ll find that different translations have different preferences for how they translate honorary Hebrew titles for God.  Here the NLT says “the Sovereign Yahweh”, whereas the NKJV interprets the same Hebrew words as “the Lord Yahweh.”  It’s the same bottom line: Yahweh is the King–the Ruler of all.

Now since “LORD” is the most common substitution for the Name Yahweh, when translators want to say “Lord Yahweh”, they run into a problem.  In English, it doesn’t work to say “Lord LORD”, so this is where you’ll see an all caps “GOD” put to use so that it becomes possible to say “Lord GOD”.  Also, since “Lord” in English is a title and not a name, you’ll see “the” added in front of it.  So “Thus says Yahweh” becomes “Thus says the LORD”.  Is this confusing?  Yes.  We would have been better off just leaving Yahweh’s Name in the text.

ex 19.18Who descended on Mt. Sinai?  Not Jesus, and not the Holy Spirit, but Yahweh.  Start paying attention to those miniature caps and you’ll be a lot less confused…until you go to church, that is.  In church, people will quote passages that are clearly talking about Yahweh and then say that those passages are about Jesus.  Why do Christians act so silly?  Because they have confused themselves with this baloney about a Trinity and our Gods being “three in one”.  Our Gods are not three in one, They are three.  In the Old Testament, you’ll learn about Yahweh.  In the Gospel books, you’ll meet Jesus.  In the New Testament epistles, you’ll find Jewish apostles referring to all three of our Gods.  Then in Revelation, you’ll find references to all three of our Gods.

The truth is that Yahweh does way more talking in the Bible than Jesus does.  Yahweh is the main Star of the Bible, and yet He is the One we talk the least about in church.  When Bible publishers highlight “God’s words” in red, they’re really only highlighting Jesus’ words in red, while they totally ignore Yahweh’s words.  How does Yahweh feel about the fact that we’re constantly minimizing Him?  It angers Him.  It angers Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well, because our Gods want us to be worshiping and exalting all three of Them. They don’t like it when we play favorites and act like one God is more important than the Others.  When He came to die for us on the cross, Jesus really emphasized the fact that it was Yahweh’s idea for Him to come.  He taught people to view His death on a cross as a statement of how much both He and Yahweh love human beings.

JESUS

Now once Jesus comes onto the scene at the start of the New Testament, things get more complicated.  Before Jesus showed up on earth in a visible form, everything was about Yahweh.  Remember that the Bible is tunnel focused on the Jews.  All of the books in the Bible were written by Jews and naturally Jews view the world with a pro-Jewish bias.  This isn’t just a Jewish thing, it’s a human thing.  Compare the history books little Russian children read in school with the history books read by little Japanese and American children, and you’ll find very different accounts of the same world events.  England had a very different experience of World War 2 than the United States did, and so their account of that war will be from the British perspective and with a pro-England bias.  It’s the same when you read through the Bible: you’re reading about history from the viewpoint of ancient Jews.

The ancient Jews didn’t experience Jesus the same way you experience Him as a modern day Christian.  To you, Jesus is a very positive Figure who has saved your hide from Hell.  To the ancient Jews, Jesus was a very disturbing and antagonist Figure who greatly threatened many of their beliefs about God, eternity, and the future of their nation on earth.  To really understand the Gospel books, you have to read them from the perspective of an ancient Jew.  We help you do this in our Know Your Bible Series.

Now in reality, all three of our Creators are with us at all times.  But when Jesus showed up on earth for a little while in the form of a human that people could touch and see, He seemed more real to them.  When He then ascended into the sky in front of them and stopped showing up in a visible form, they felt like He was gone from the earth.  He wasn’t really gone at all, nor did He really leave the earth, because Jesus is everywhere all the time.  Jesus knew that when people saw Him leave, they would feel like He was gone even though He would still be with them.  Our Gods understand the human perspective of things, and They speak to us from that perspective.  This is why we find Jesus talking to His disciples about things that would happen after He was gone, even though Jesus knew that He wasn’t really going anywhere.  When Jesus spoke of leaving His disciples, He meant no longer keeping up a visible form around them.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

Now Jesus said that once He was gone, another God–the Holy Spirit–would come and be with people.  Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit as the One who instructs us about who our Gods are and what They want from us.  If you are a Christian today, it’s because the Holy Spirit introduced you to certain truths about God and you’ve accepted those truths.  The Holy Spirit is our First Contact with our three Creators.  He is the One who is in charge of teaching or illuminating our minds with truth.  For example, when you read the Bible, it is the Holy Spirit who is helping you understand what it says.

SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION

So what exactly is the illumination of the Holy Spirit?  Well, suppose you walk into a dark room that is filled with furniture.  The room is so dark, that you can’t see what’s in it, but does the fact that you can’t see make the contents of the room less real?  Not at all.  The couch, the coffee table, and the television are all very real and they are all sitting in the room right in front of you, but you can’t see them because the lights are off.  When you turn the light switch on, the room becomes illuminated with light, and suddenly you can see what has been there all along.

This is how it works when the Holy Spirit illuminates you with truth.  Our Gods have always existed, but you weren’t always aware of Them.  When you were born, you knew nothing about who your Creators were.  You could look at the world around you, but you didn’t understand where it came from until the Holy Spirit illuminated your soul and helped you understand truths that have been right in front of you all along.

Today the Theory of Evolution is very popular.  That theory says that you weren’t created, you’re just the random product of countless meaningless coincidences.  Evolution teaches that everything that exists only exists as a freak accident.  Evolutionists look around at the vast complexity of the universe and insist that there is no evidence that God exists.  Yet if you take those same Evolutionists into your house, show them the simple design of walls and a roof and ask them how it got there, the Evolutionists will say it’s obvious that someone with purpose and intelligence constructed the house.  This is the irony of Evolutionists: they can find two rocks stacked on top of each other in a field and observe certain details about the rocks that make it clear to them that someone intentionally placed one rock on another a very long time ago.  Then they get super excited about their finding and write a bunch of books about it.  Yet when they look around at the vast complexity of the universe, they say the whole thing exists by random chance and they adamantly insist that it is impossible to ever prove the existence of an intelligent Creator.  How can people talk so stupidly and not even hear how ridiculous they are being?  Well, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we are all stupid, and even when we’re surrounded by a ton of evidence for something, we can’t recognize it.

Unfortunately, many teachers in the Church today don’t have much illumination from the Holy Spirit.  Instead of teaching you the truth about the Bible and your Creators, they teach you a lot of ridiculous lies.  When you don’t know any better, you put your faith in those lies and then you end up in a confused and fearful mess.  Happily, there is a solution to this problem.  You don’t have to go to college or be super smart or spend a million hours reading up on biblical history in order to learn the truth about who your Creators are and what They want from you.  If you really want to know the truth, you need to stop relying on human teachers and go directly to God.  The Holy Spirit is your main Teacher in life, and He is the One you need to ask to teach you truth from lies.

On our site, we put out a lot of information about God to help steer you down the right roads and make you aware of some common ways that the Church leads you astray.  But you can’t just take our word for things–you need to be asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom.  No human has a perfect understanding of truth.  Only your three glorious Creators can be trusted to guide you down the right road, and They will guide you, because They created you for the purpose of having a personal relationship with Them.  They are not residing in some distant Heaven which only a priest or prophet can access for you.  They are with you everywhere you go, and you can talk to Them anytime, anywhere in the privacy of your own mind.

The Bible can be a wonderful teaching tool in your life, but only if you are relying on the Holy Spirit to interpret it for you.  Simply memorizing passages and quoting chapter and verse isn’t going to help you at all.  Today there are many “experts” who know their Bible inside and out, yet while they can tell you where a certain passage is located in the Book, they have no idea what the real meaning of that passage is.  Many of the Bible commentators that are widely quoted today are putting out all kinds of absurd teachings about God because they aren’t listening to the Holy Spirit.  Just as an Evolutionist and a Christian can look up at the sky and see the same stars, yet come to totally different conclusions about how those stars got there, you and a bible “scholar” can read the same passage and come to very different conclusions about what it means.  Don’t assume the guys with the titles and degrees must always be right and you must be wrong. Whoever is sincerely seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit is going to end up with the correct understanding of truth, and how much schooling you’ve had has nothing to do with seeking God.  Seeking God is something you do inside yourself, not something you do in a classroom.  Realize that you are not some lesser Christian to God.  He wants to teach you all kinds of fascinating insights. He wants you to grow in your understanding of who He is and become very wise in spiritual matters.  Start asking Him to teach you His truth and you will be amazed at how differently you start to see things.

FURTHER READING:
Escaping the Boredom of Reading the Bible

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