“Since the oldest copies of the New Testament are in Greek, theological scholarship has studied the Greek world and its pagan philosophies and values. This has been important in the effort to understand the target audience of the Gospel. However, now is the time to create a balance that has been lacking in our century. Alongside the concentration on the study of the Greek-speaking audience, we need a new concentration on the study of the sources.
It has been amazing to us, trained as we were in Greek ways, to discover this Jewish world. It is disturbing to realize that we could have drifted so far away from this world.”- Professor Brad H. Young
I am asked this intriguing question frequently. After all, why would Jeremiah foretell that the messiah will be called “God” if he is not the Almighty? There can be no doubt that Jeremiah 23:5-6 is discussing the messianic age and the messiah in these passages. Why would the messiah be given a divine name?
The answer is that there are unique people and places in the world which enable man to perceive the presence of the Almighty. These manifestations, which are not divine, are called “God” throughout the Tanach. While there are many examples I can use to illustrate this point, one passage especially stands out because the author, language and context are identical to the verses you cited in Jeremiah 23:5-6.
In Jeremiah 33:16, only ten chapters later, the prophet declares that the city of Jerusalem will be called the identical name as the messiah, “The Lord our Righteousness.”
Let’s compare these two sister passages side-by-side:
In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely, and this is the name by which she will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness (יהוה צדקנו)
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a Righteous Branch, and He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is His name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness (יהוה צדקנו)
In Jeremiah 33:16, the prophet declares that the city of Jerusalem will be called, “The Lord Our Righteousness.” Does this prophecy mean that Jerusalem is God? Are we to worship the city as a deity?
In Isaiah 7:10, the prophet is called “God“. All of these passages use the same ineffable name of God, יהוה. There are many other examples of this linguistic pattern, which is widespread throughout Tanach.
In the Torah, the patriarch Jacob named an altar he erected “The God of Israel.”
And he [Jacob] erected there an altar, and called it the “God of Israel.” (ויקרא לו אל אלקי ישראל)
When the Almighty instructed Moses to confront Pharaoh in order to deliver the children of Israel from bondage, Moses was reluctant. He considered himself unfit for this task because of his speech impediment. The Almighty replied that Moses would be “a God” to Pharaoh, and his brother/ Aaron would be his prophet.
And the Lord said unto Moses, “See, I have made thee a God (אלהים) to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
The Almighty clearly stated that Moses was given the mandate to represent God in the outset of His instructions to the Lawgiver.
“Moreover, he [Aaron] shall speak for you [Moses] to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God (לאלהים) to him.”
As mentioned above, Isaiah is called “God” (יהוה) in his now-famous seventh chapter, when the prophet informs King Ahaz that his enemies, Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel, will not succeed in the Syro-Ephraimite War.
And the Lord (יהוה) spoke again to Ahaz, saying…
Throughout the seventh chapter of Isaiah, however, God did not have a conversation with Ahaz, for he was unworthy of receiving prophecy. Throughout these passages, Isaiah was communicating with the King. Yet, the prophet is called the name “God” because throughout his encounter with the king, he reflected the presence of God, just as Pharaoh perceived the presence of God while in the company of Moses. Judges those who teach and adjudicate the Law of God throughout the Tanach. For example, are Called “God“.
Then his master shall bring him to the judges (האלהים)…
For any kind of lost thing which another claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the Judges (האלהים); and whoever the Judges (אלהים) condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.
What do these sacred names suggest? Those entities upon which God’s presence rests are a foil to reflect God’s holiness, and accordingly, are called “God” in the Bible. The Messiah and Jerusalem are among them.
King David, the founder of Jerusalem, describes how the spirit of God rests on His holy city:
‘A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God; God will establish her forever.
(Psalm 48:1, 8)
That men may tell of the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem. (Psalm 102:2)
Likewise, Isaiah foretells that the spirit of righteousness will rest upon the messiah (Isaiah 11:2-3).
In the twenty-third chapter of Jeremiah, God warns that He will purge “false shepherds” from the land in the messianic age, and replace them with a leader from the House of David who will “perform judgement and righteousness” (23:5). Accordingly, the messianic leader will be called “The Lord Our Righteousness“.
In the thirty-third chapter of Jeremiah, God promises that flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them” (33:13) and there will be “safety and security” (33:16) in Jerusalem in the future messianic age. Thus, the city of God will be called “The Lord Our Righteousness“.
Neither the messiah nor Jerusalem is to be worshiped as God. On the contrary, the messiah will fear God (Isaiah 11:2-3), and inspire the nation to do the same. God does not fear Himself.
In the End of Days, both the city of David and the heir to David’s throne will inspire the world to perceive the righteousness of our God.
The Merciful One repeatedly warns the Jewish people to turn away from foreign gods. As a result of this sin, ten tribes were exiled by Assyria 2,700 years ago. The prophet Hosea warned the Northern Kingdom of Israel that idol worship would lead to their demise. There is, however, wonderful news conveyed in the Tanach.
Listen to the words of Isaiah:
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.
Let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord; for as thee heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
In his warm, uplifting sermon, the prophet promises that repentance alone atones for sin. This is Judaism!
I find it difficult to understand why Christians have chosen this belief that Jesus was God when John’s Jesus says:
…because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
Clearly, the author of the fourth Gospel did not regard Jesus as equal with God. Below, I enclosed some Bible references for you to study.
If you are not sure who the God of Israel is, the Bible gives us a hint in this matter. Scripture warns us that one day you will worship other gods that your fathers did not know (Deuteronomy 28) and this iniquity will bring about national disaster. So ask yourself this question: “Did my great grandfather worship Yeshua ben Josef as God?”
If the answer to that question is “no” then it is time to come home to your God and your people.
Shalom from Jersualem,
Extensive list of Bible references
You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words, there was only a voice.
You are the ones who have been shown, so that you will know that God is the Supreme Being, and there is none other besides Him!
Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other!
You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you!
See, now, that I, I am He — and no god is with Me..
I Samuel 2:2
There is none holy as the Lord. There is none beside Thee; neither is there any Rock like our God.
I Kings 8:27
For will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have built?
I Kings 8:60
So that all the nations of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other!
II Kings 19:19
Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God. (See also Psalm 113:5)
“To whom then will you liken God? To what likeness will you compare Him?
“To whom then will you liken me, that I should be his equal? Says the Holy One.
I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images!
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior.”
So said the Lord, Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty, “I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God! Who then is like Me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare it and lay it out before Me… Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
Thus said the Lord, your Redeemer, the One who formed you from the womb, “I am the Lord Who makes everything, Who stretched forth the heavens alone, Who spread out the earth by Myself.”
I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God… I will strengthen you… in order that they know from the shining of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me; I am the Lord and there is no other!
… Who announced this from before, who declared it from the distant past? Is it not I, the Lord, and there is no God apart from Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other!
To whom shall you liken Me and make Me equal and compare Me that we may be alike?
Remember the first things of old, that l am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me.
I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but Me, no Savior except Me!
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and I am the Lord your God, there is no other; and My people shall never be ashamed.
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why should we betray, each one his brother, to profane the covenant of our forefathers?
Whom have I in heaven but You? The earth has nothing I desire besides You
Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to me! Let there be no strange god among you, nor shall you worship any foreign god.
You alone are the Lord; You made the heavens, the heavens of the heavens and all their host, the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them, and you give life to all, and the heavenly host bow down before You.
I Chronicles 17:20
O Lord, there is none like You, neither is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears!
Co-Founder of the Kol HaTor-Project.
His association with the Kol HaTor Vision and Project draws from his passion for the Biblical Prophetical Promise of the Restoration of the House of Israel. Read more.