In a prior post I suggested that Jesus is Yahweh's Unique Dwelling Place. I have also been discussing the Authentic Humanity of Jesus Christ. These two topics are inseparably interwoven from my perspective but this one will pick up where the first one left off. While discussing Jesus as the unique dwelling place of Yahweh* we also discussed the name of Jesus. In this post I wanted to expand on what it means for Jesus to be that "unique dwelling place". What does this mean?
In Israel's history Jersusalem, the Temple Mount and the Temple were all considered holy because God's name and presence dwelled there (See 2 Sam. 7:13; 1 Kings 3:2 and Isa 18:7). Notice the following renderings of Psalm 26:8:
Lord, I have loved the beauty of thy house, and the place of the tabernacle of thy glory. LXX
O LORD, I love Your temple abode, the dwelling-place of Your glory. JPS TNK
O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. ESV
Also notice Isaiah 59:19:
So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. ESV
The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) suggests the Hebrew word for "glory" in these texts refer to a "manifestation of Yahweh"(1).Jesus being the Temple means that He has replaced the Temple where sacrifices were once made. Jesus then is where the glory, name and presence of Yahweh lives and is now manifest permanently. Translator R.G. Bratcher suggests that Yahweh's glory is:
the manifestation of his presence and power, usually described in terms of a dazzling light (see Exo 33:18, 22; 40:34; 1 Kgs 8:10–11). The place where thy glory dwells is sometimes difficult to translate, because glory is normally an attributive of God and not an animate being which can be said to perform the act of dwelling. However, by recasting this expression it is possible to say something like "the place where you are gloriously present,"(2)In Psalm 26:8 we see that David loved the house of God. Was it because of the instruments? Was it because of the design? I am sure those items were precious to David and impressive on a large scale. However, David loved the house of God because that is where Yahweh was present. J.E. Smith noted, "David loved the house of God, the sanctuary where Yahweh dwelt among his people (Exod 25:8f.). Yahweh’s "glory" is his manifested presence, of which the ark was the outward symbol."(3)
The glory of God by its very nature is pre-existent. It was this glory, the very presence of Yahweh Himself, that revealed Himself in the flesh and blood of Jesus of Nazareth. What no scribe would say the Apostle John says, the Word was with God and yet is God (John 1:1). The dwelling place of God was no longer Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or even the Temple in all of its splendor. The Gospel of John records that the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14 ESV) or "Word became flesh and took up residence among us" LEB. T.F. Torrance noted that here "John is clearly thinking of the Old Testament tabernacle, the moving tent of meeting, as it was called, the place where God and man met and God revealed himself to man."(4) To say that God was in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19) is to say that Yahweh was in Christ. In Christ Yahweh, Himself, tabernacles among us. In Zechariah 12:10 the prophet foretold something that could only be fulfilled in Christ Jesus:
"...when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." ESV
"...they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn." NASB
"...they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn." NET
The pronoun "me" is a reference to Yahweh, the speaker. Some have stumbled here and have sought to understand this verse in different ways. Largely because this verse raises the question of how Yahweh could be pierced? How can such a thing ever be true? In some places to reject the prophets was to reject the Lord (2 Chron. 36:15-16) but how can one say it is the Lord Himself who has been pierced? Only in Jesus. Jesus said that to see Him was to see the Father (John 12:45; 14:9-10). To pierce Jesus then was to pierce Yahweh.
But what about "They will lament for him"? It is quite common for the author to shift from first person to third person in Biblical texts. This can be done without change of antecedent. In Zechariah 12:7-9 Yahweh speaks in first person but alternates with third person language also by going from "I" to "the Lord". Jesus is not merely a representative of Yahweh nor is He merely the second of three divine persons. Jesus is the only one who can be Yahweh and Messiah.
In John 2:19 Jesus says, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." ESV Here the Jews misunderstood what Jesus was thinking. They thought he was referring to the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus however replaces the Temple with Himself since after His death it is He who was raised. Here we can see how John uses double-level thinking. Those standing around Jesus probably missed the true implications of what Jesus had said for in those words are revealed something important about the identity of Jesus. Jesus is now the place where God's name and presence dwells. In Jesus God has made Himself fully known to man. God has literally ptiched his tent and tabernacled (See Psalm 26:8; 135:2) among us (See John 1:1, 14, 18; Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16).
1) Koehler, L. and Baumgartner, W. et al. The Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament © 1994-2000 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. All rights reserved
2) Bratcher, Robert G. and William David Reyburn. A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1991.
3) Smith, James E. The Wisdom Literature and Psalms. Old Testament Survey Series. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996.
4) Torrance, Thomas F. Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (c) 2008 by Thomas F. Torrance and Robert T. Walker. Intervarsity Press Academic publishing. (pg. 59)
*Yahweh here is used the same as one would say God. God in each instance is a reference to Yahweh. The personal name of the God of Israel. Read the conversation of Jesus and the Jewish scribe at Mark 12:29-30.