Where Can We Find God the Father in the Old Testament

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings Pilgrims,

Maybe several of you could help me out here?

Q. Why such a provocative title?
A. To get your attention.
~~~~~~~

This is my standard answer to the many who seek help finding Christ in the Old Testament. I consider this as the wrong question. Instead, we should ask, "Where in the Old Testament can we find the direct personal presence and work of God the Father, the First Person, and Fountainhead of the Trinity?"

I have posted several times stating my belief that God, the Second Person of the Trinity, was ubiquitously present as God the Father's appointed man on the scene to govern all things having to do with the Creation. By all things, I mean everything–from the original speaking of the universe into being out of nothing, including all things visible and invisible, the heavens and the earth, time itself, angles, and men.

I have, on several occasions, requested feedback on my assertion. Not many Christians say what I have said, therefor I have asked for help.
I am no fan of creativity or novelty in theology.

But I am also puzzled why no one–and I mean no one–has ever said anything about what I have said. I didn't know what to expect. I thought responses could range anywhere from confirmation to condemnation and anywhere in between. I hoped some would say, "This is a new concept to me, and I will give it some thought."

I decided to start a thread hoping to arouse some thought. So I posted a thread on August 18, 2022, in the Daily Devotional Forum. (probably not the best forum)


Again I got no (zero) replies. So I wondered if what I said was so weird that people thought I was too far off to be helped. Or maybe the subject was of no interest at all. So, if any of you can spare of few minutes, please read what I wrote in my post to better help you help me.

These are my three questions.
  1. Am I way off target and need instruction or even rebuke?
  2. Or – Am I right?
  3. Or – Did I raise an interesting concept that should be considered?
Thanks,

Ed Walsh
 

pylgrym

Puritan Board Freshman

Psalms 2:7​


“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hello Ed,

A few thoughts. In Isaiah 48:16, 17, it is written,

Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. [emphasis added]​
Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.​

Is not part of the "problem" that, in the OT, the distinctions within the Godhead pertain mainly to the Eternal God triune, and the "man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5), the sent Messiah?

Ed, you said, "Where in the Old Testament can we find the direct personal presence and work of God the Father, the First Person, and Fountainhead of the Trinity?"

As noted above by folks, there are many references distinguishing the Father from the Son. In those the Father is referred to simply as God, or LORD. It is the Holy Spirit who is often not openly referred to.

When David, in his prayer near the end of his life, spoke to God, it is written, "Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all....Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name." (1 Chron 29:10,11,13)

Is it not the triune deity David is addressing?

Can we not likewise, in reading the NT infer the fatherhood of God, by the new light given in the NT? :

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.​
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall he to me a Son. And again, when he brings in the first begotten into the world, he said, And let all the angels of God worship him.​
“And of the angels he said, Who makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire.​
“But unto the Son he said, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom: Thou has loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And Thou, Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundation of the earth. And the heavens are the works of your hands: they shall perish but thou remains. And they all shall wax old as does a garment; and as a vesture shall thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” (Hebrews 1:1-12).​

Who is the Speaker in the Hebrews section above? Is it the Father "alone" who is speaking above, or the triune deity, or the Father and the Spirit?

Can we not gain understanding from what Jesus says in Matt 11:27,

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.​

God the Father, truly as Father, was not known in the OT, and not until Jesus revealed Him was He even known as Father in the NT:

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:7,8,9 ff)​

It is in Jesus Christ that the Father is revealed, and not elsewhere. In the OT clarity was not given. In the New, by the Third Person of the Godhead (the fullness of which dwelleth bodily in Christ Jesus) Christ reveals the Godhead.

I hope I have not with many words muddied the water.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
It is in Jesus Christ that the Father is revealed, and not elsewhere. In the OT clarity was not given. In the New, by the Third Person of the Godhead (the fullness of which dwelleth bodily in Christ Jesus) Christ reveals the Godhead.

I hope I have not with many words muddied the water.
"Muddy water" from you Steve? Never!
Even when I say dumb things you still take me seriously and spend valuable time answering me. And I thank you for that.

To all, a clarification.
@Polanus1561 @pylgrym @jw thanks, Josh, for adding the levity.

I agree with everything everyone said. It is I that was unclear. (actually, no one other than Steve said anything to me)
I didn't mean there was no mention of the Father in the Old Testament. For indeed, there is, as you all indicated.

The Trinity of Persons in the Godhead always and only act in complete harmony in everything as the One God they are. It is impossible that it could be otherwise. It is only the roles each Person has that there is any divergence at all. For an obvious example, the Father did not become incarnate, but God the Son did. We are told that it was the Father's love for the world that initialized the sending of his only Son.

Maybe an example from the New Testament will better explain what I mean.

Consider the activity of the Father in both the baptism of Jesus and the Transfiguration. The Father broke His silence and spoke powerfully about His glorious Son. But He did so as from heaven and not, as I probably poorly put it, as "the man on the scene."

Perhaps one proof text to show that activity usually assumed to be that of the Father is the work of His son on Earth.

Jude 1:5 ESV
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

This was my only point, and please forgive me if I bored you.

Thanks,

Ed Walsh
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Ed, I understand your point and your nuances I think. I also tend to believe that the Second Person of the Godhead is the primary Person that interacts with His creation in the OT. The many theophanies, and 'the Angel of LORD' s' are all the Son. The Rock, Jacob's Wrestler, the Burning Bush, ect. You get the point. This makes sense since it is the Son's part in the Divine Compact to do the will of the Father. I'm 9 sermons into a series exactly on this subject right now.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Ed,

Another thing occurred to me in this discussion. The Father is known as Father only in relation to His having a Son, and in the OT the existence of the Son was barely known. The LORD God was not known in relation to a Son, and thus not known as a Father, only as God and LORD.

When the Eternal Son became manifest in the flesh, it was He who began the revelation of the Father, and, further, of the triunity of the Godhead.

As BB Warfield demonstrates in his essay on the Trinity, the triune nature of the Persons in the Godhead were not initially revealed through doctrine, but through the redemptive activity of the Godhead – to wit, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by John the Baptizer:

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matt 3:16,17).​

It was the NT redemptive activity of the Persons of the Godhead that revealed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to human awareness and understanding. And not only in this account of Matthew's. And then the church began developing and inscripturating doctrine from what was revealed to them – even though it was foretold in the OT, but without the later light to illumine it.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The Trinitarian nature of true divinity remains "obscure" in the OT--like many other things respecting special revelation--awaiting the NT for completion of that revelation in the perfect fulfillment of expectation in the Son of God, Heb.1:2. The Fatherhood of God is not such a minor theme in the OT that God the Father is left wholly unknown as such; but when the Word becomes flesh in order to dwell among us, we have such a statement as this from the Son: "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him," Mt.11:27 (previously mentioned).

God is the Father of Israel, as stated plainly in texts like Hos.11:1, "...I called my son out of Egypt," cf. Ex.4:23. The Christ is Israel condensed into one man, the monarchical heir (per Ps.2:7), the preferred son (Gen.24:36), the ideal Israelite and perfect mediatorial figure. Somehow he will (from the OT expectation standpoint) not only be David's son, but also David's Lord (Ps.110:1); a man who is nonetheless Emmanuel, God with us, bearing the epithet "Mighty God" (Is.7:14 & 9:6). This Son so perfectly fulfills what Israel on the whole, and particular Israelites in fine, only aspired to (and often did the contrary); that in the revelation of the Son, the Father more distinctly than ever appears.

God is indeed the Son, though not after a "modalist" view, and at the same time is the Father with a distinct Personality, as well as being the Spirit (a name first encountered in Gen.1:2). There is no more than one God--a fact the OT goes to great lengths to insist, and that the NT does not modify at all. But in the OT the Spirit of God, along with the Angel of the Lord, is on various occasions demonstrably present in the OT, being both identified as and yet mysteriously distinct from the singular, inapproachable Deity (just as much from other spirits and angels). Through the Person and work of the Son, the Father is taught to us (a new Israel) to know as our glorious Father through the union formed between the Mediator and the people who savor his salvation. The Son makes sons of all of us (Heb.2:10), so by his grant we too may call God "our Father in heaven."
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Ed, does this answer your question re the Father being unknown as such in the OT?

Hi Steve,

Thanks again for writing on this thread.

To your question about "the Father being unknown," In a general way, Yes. I can only think of one place (Isaiah 9:6) where a Son (Jesus) is called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." I should add that the title "Father" applied to the Son seems out of place. But there it is.

I am sure you agree, NT saints see many Trinitarian allusions in the OT. E.g., Psalm 110, Psalm 2, Isaiah 53, etc.
Also, there are some OT Rabbis that had a concept that the God who is "One" was also a "compound," as the word אֶחָד (ehad) can mean.
Why did Jesus often refer to Psalm 110?

It is apparent in the NT that, for the most part, Jesus' disciples didn't get it, as Jesus repeatedly implied that He was God the Son and the Son of Man.
Jesus' favorite name for himself was "son of man," which, in the OT a name implying Deity. Mostly, it was not until after the resurrection that this sunk into the disciples.

~~~~~~~
NOTE: My phrase above in red, particularly the crossed-out words is not true. (See @iainduguid 's correction in the next post [#12]). This was a good reminder to me that I should think before I type.
Dr. Duguid – You have often helped out little 'ol me, and I appreciate it more than you could know.
~~~~~~~

But this was not the case with the Jews. They got the message loud and clear that Jesus was the Son of God, thus proclaiming himself God. They understood the meaning of both 'Father' and the 'Son.' If this concept was entirely new to them, wouldn't you expect them to quote Deuteronomy 6:4 and mock Jesus as a crackpot? But this claim is the primary reason He was killed.

John 5:17-18
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now, and I work. For this cause, therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Finally, some OT Rabbis wrote and taught that God was both One and yet had a similar concept of the Trinity.
I didn't have time to prove this with quotes, but I will do so soon.
 
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iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
It is apparent in the NT that, for the most part, Jesus' disciples didn't get it, as Jesus repeatedly implied that He was God the Son and the Son of Man.
Jesus' favorite name for himself was "son of man," which, in the OT a name implying Deity. Mostly, it was not until after the resurrection that this sunk into the disciples.
Just to clarify, the term "son of man" does not imply deity in the OT but rather humanity (see Jer. 50:40; Ezek. 2:1; Dan. 8:17; etc). Our perspective on the term is skewed by the usage in Daniel 7:13 viewed through the lens of the New Testament. In fact, in Daniel 7, the term "son of man" still implies humanness; the implication of deity is born by the fact that he "comes with the clouds of heaven": only God rides on the clouds in the OT (challenging Baal's claim to be the cloud-rider). That is why "Son of Man" was such a perfect title for Jesus in his earthly ministry, both concealing and revealing his identity.

In fact, Daniel 7 should be added to your list, since the one like a son of man is presented before the Ancient of Days, who must surely be the Father in that context.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Just to clarify, the term "son of man" does not imply deity in the OT but rather humanity (see Jer. 50:40; Ezek. 2:1; Dan. 8:17; etc). Our perspective on the term is skewed by the usage in Daniel 7:13 viewed through the lens of the New Testament. In fact, in Daniel 7, the term "son of man" still implies humanness; the implication of deity is born by the fact that he "comes with the clouds of heaven": only God rides on the clouds in the OT (challenging Baal's claim to be the cloud-rider). That is why "Son of Man" was such a perfect title for Jesus in his earthly ministry, both concealing and revealing his identity.

In fact, Daniel 7 should be added to your list, since the one like a son of man is presented before the Ancient of Days, who must surely be the Father in that context.

Thanks, Dr. Duguid,

Of course, you are right. Thanks for the correction.

Ed
 
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