And the goal continues…and the chapters increase…and the journey for all is like day 4 of a 3 day road trip: it’s a bit long…everyone’s a bit restless…and from somewhere over my left shoulder, I’m sure I heard, “Are we there yet?” and then, “Why are the child-safety locks on?”
Chapter Nine: The Paradox of a Triangular God
Moving from the Law of Opposites as depicted in the written word and in the living Word, we’ll now examine that same law as demonstrated in the Persons of God and in the names of God. As we have seen so far, each inspection of an action, an attribute, or an attitude of God has pulled our vision in opposite directions as we try to look both to the left and to the right, both at the center and at the circumference of God. As often as we have stepped closer for a clearer view of God, we’ve had to step back for a broader view of God. His omnipresence makes it impossible not to see Him everywhere we look while also making it impossible to see Him only where we look. But, because “an intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Prov. 18:15), let us continue to behold our multidimensional God.
The Paradox of God as Illustrated in His Form(s)
We’ll start first with the angularity of God as portrayed in the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These titles are also referred to as the three Persons of the Trinity. Together, they are God; independently, they are their own Person while also retaining the fullness of God. In other words, if you were to step closer, you’d see that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; but if you were to step back, you’d also see that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. It’s an interesting relationship our God has within Himself. In fact, it’s a mathematical wonder!
Geometrically speaking, the Trinity is often presented as a triangle. To be exact, it is an equilateral triangle, with each side measuring the same length and each angle measuring the same degree. Yet, while the Trinity is portrayed as a triangle, God is illustrated as a circle, having no beginning or ending. Two shapes, two representations, one God. It is through both of these depictions that we gain a clearer understanding of our God. As related to the tri-angle, let’s look at the definition of an angle: a shape formed by two lines diverging from a common point. In order to identify a name in the Trinity, we look at an endpoint in each angle; but in order to understand the nature of that name, we look not at the endpoint but at the angle that is formed by the lines emanating from each endpoint.
This means, then, that the Father is seen through the Son and the Spirit; the Son is seen through the Spirit and the Father, and the Spirit is seen through the Father and the Son. The paradox surfaces when we realize that God defines who He is by contrasting Himself with…Himself. And, not only does He pinpoint who He is, but He also proclaims who He is not. God is the Father who sent the Son; God is the Son who announced the Spirit; God is the Spirit who speaks for the Father. One God, three Persons; three Persons, three angles; three angles, three measurements of God.
The Paradox of God as Illuminated in His Name(s)
As we continue to see how the law of opposites highlights God, we’ll next examine His nature as illuminated in His names. Before looking at the names that pertain to the Persons of God, let us first examine those that pertain to the wholeness of God.
Elohim. This is the first name for God we encounter in Scripture. It is found in Genesis 1:1 when we read, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This Hebrew name for God is unique in that it is plural in form, just as God is plural in form. In Genesis 1:26, we come face to face, or truth to text, with God’s plurality when He says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” While Elohim proclaims the triune nature of God, it is not the only name through which His completeness is identified. El Elyon, meaning God Most High, and Jehovah, meaning self-existent One, also encircle the entirety of God. Truly, there is no god like Jehovah, or El Elyon, or Elohim. He is the God who governs the law of opposites in that His fullness is found in the totality of His parts, though within each individual part, His fullness is also contained.
From the angle of the Father
When it comes to names for the Father, we will look at three: El Shaddai, El Roi, and Abba. In Genesis 17, we meet up with Abram who, having waited nearly 25 years for God to fulfill His promise of making him a father, now falls on his face before his Father, El Shaddai (God Almighty). Not only does God tell Abram that He will keep His promise to him, but to make sure Abram doesn’t forget his Father’s name, El Shaddai changes Abram’s name! Abram becomes Abraham; before he becomes the father of a nation, Abraham meets the nation’s Almighty, Promise-Keeping Father, and a new relationship is born.
Just a chapter before Abram’s encounter with El Shaddai, we learn about Hagar’s encounter with El Roi. Hagar is Sarai’s maidservant who, through a series of events, finds herself pregnant and alone in the wilderness. She is without a home, without a husband, and without a hope, but she is not without a Father. Just when she struggled to see a way out of her present, she met the God who saw into her future; in the midst of uncertainties, Hagar meets El Roi, The God Who Sees. What a revelation is unmasked in this name, El Roi. When we run into the arms of our Father, not only do we have the guarantee of the promises He has made to us (as El Shaddai) but we also have the assurance that He never loses sight of us, even when we lose sight of Him.
Thirdly, we come to the Aramaic name Abba, which in English means “Daddy”. Jesus used this name when He prayed to His Father. In Romans 8:15, we learn that, as adopted children of God, we too can approach our LORD as “Abba, Father”. What a special relationship we have been offered through the Son to the Father! It is a bond Jesus shares with God and a benefit He extends to us. “How great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). Who is this God…this Elohim, El Elyon, and Jehovah? He is El Shaddai, our promise-keeping Father; He is El Roi, our all-seeing Father; and He is Abba, our Heavenly Daddy.
From the angle of the Son
As we move to the “endpoint” of the Son, we will do so through another set of names: Jehovah-Tsidkenu, Jehovah-Rohi, and Jehovah-Jireh. The first name, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, means The LORD our Righteousness. This name is found in Jeremiah 23:6 where God is warning the religious leaders that He “will raise to David a Branch of righteousness…He will be called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”. The reference is to His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we receive our righteousness. Paul records the fulfillment of this promise when he writes that our “righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” are found in Jesus (I Cor. 1:30). Jesus was sent from Heaven to earth so that, through Him, man would have a way from earth to Heaven. It is from the Father that we receive the Son, but it is because of the Son that we can receive the Father.
Next, there is Jehovah-Rohi, The LORD is my Shepherd. We are most familiar with this name in Psalm 23 where David writes “the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want”, but Micah also refers to Jesus’ role as a Shepherd (chapter 5:4) and Isaiah writes “like a shepherd He will arise and shepherd His flock” (40:11). Then, in the New Testament, John records Jesus’ own use of this name when He calls Himself the Good Shepherd (10:11) and when Peter exhorts the elders to care for their flock (I Peter 5:4), he reminds them of their accountability to the Chief Shepherd. The Lamb who is our righteousness also guards our righteousness as He shepherds His fold.
Then, there is Jehovah-Jireh, The LORD Provides. Abraham speaks of this name in the fourteenth verse of Genesis 22, but he believes in this name in the eighth verse of that same chapter. Here, Abraham and Isaac are physically climbing Mount Moriah but spiritually clinging to Mount Promise. Abraham believed the Provider of his promised son would also be the Provider of his required sacrifice. So he climbed…and he clung…and he kept the faith. And, when he reached the summit of Mount Promise, he found himself at the foot of Mount Provision and at the feet of Jehovah-Jireh. Here, at the place where the sacrifice was to be made, God provided a ram to take Isaac’s place. And Abraham, who already knew El Shaddai, encountered Jehovah-Jireh, The LORD Who Provides. It is a beautiful depiction of God’s love for Abraham and Isaac and a continual reminder to us that, what God requires from us, He also provides for us through His Son, through our Lamb.
From the angle of the Spirit
While the Holy Spirit, as a part of the Holy Trinity, has always existed, His attributes are proclaimed in Isaiah 11, His arrival is heralded in John 14, and His anointing is decreed in Romans 8. In Isaiah 11, we see the Spirit as The Giver: The Giver of wisdom and understanding, The Giver of counsel and might, and The Giver of knowledge and fear of the LORD (Is. 11:1-2). In John 14:26, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, for “He will teach all things and bring to remembrance” the truths of God’s word. Paul also describes the Holy Spirit as our Helper in times of weakness, as our Intercessor when we don’t know how to pray, as our Convictor when we struggle with the flesh, and as our Birth Certificate confirming our adoption by the Father (Romans 8:12-27). When it comes to “measuring” the Holy Spirit, the definition of an angle couldn’t be more applicable, for truly His endpoint is seen most clearly through the lines that extend toward the Father and the Son, to Whom He illuminates and from Whom He emanates.
The Law of Opposites as found in the Diverging Lines
Just as angles are known by the divergence of two separate lines from one common point, so now we see our God more clearly through the points of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each Angle (Person) of the Trinity being defined by its alternate Angles (Persons), and yet, both in their individuality and in their collectiveness, they are complete in Who they are as well as in Who they are not. El Shaddai, El Roi, and Abba are three degrees of the Father measured through the Son and the Holy Spirit; Jehovah-Tsidkenu, Jehovah-Rohi, and Jehovah-Jireh are three degrees of the Son measured through the Holy Spirit and the Father; and the Giver, the Helper, and the Interceder are three degrees of the Holy Spirit measured through the Father and the Son.
The Law of Opposites, we’ve examined it in what God designed (Creation), in what God dictates (spoken word and Living Word), and in what God demonstrates (His Nature and His Name). Next, we’ll examine it in what God demands.