“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
Proof that the Son is God
I’m not going to talk about the Son as the Mediator just yet. I first want to show that the Son is God. First, Psalm 45:6 says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” The Jews quibble that the name “God” is applied to angels or rules of government. But no Scripture passages indicates that God’s throne would ever be set up for a mere creature, angelic or otherwise. In the passage, he is not only called God, but also the eternal Ruler. Furthermore, the title of “God” is never applied to a human being except when there is some qualifying remark such as the time when Moses would be “like” God to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1). Some read this verse as if it were in the genitive case, but that is a weak point. I will admit that anything which has a great excellence can often be called “divine.” But from the context is clear that the throne is not divine! The Messiah is.
But if Psalm 45 doesn’t convince them, then Isaiah should. In Isaiah 9:6, Christ is not only introduced to us as God but also as having the attributes of God: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” Jews object to this passage too and invert the order. They believe that the only name the “Might God” will call the Messiah is Prince of Peace. But why would so many titles for God the Father be piled up when Isaiah’s purpose is to present the Messiah with certain attributes which would stir faith in us? There can be no doubt that the one called “Immanuel” a little earlier in Isaiah (7:14) is called “Mighty God” here.
Also, there can be nothing clearer than the words of Jeremiah: “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness'” (23:6). Jews claim that other names of God are mere titles. But in this passage, the covenant name of God (“Yahweh”) is used. This name is substantive and expresses God’s essence. In this passage, then, the Messiah receives the very same name as Yahweh. The Son is God too. And the Son also receives the exclusive glory of God, as elsewhere, God declares, “My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8).
Now, the Jews try to evade this argument and claim that the name “Yahweh” was applied to the altar which Moses built and to the New Jerusalem by Ezekiel. Thus, there is nothing special about receiving the “name” of God.
However, in both of those instances, each thing was made to testify to God’s glory. For example, the prophet Ezekiel reports about the Lord’s presence returning to the city and thus bringing glory to Him (Ezekiel 48:35). Also, Moses built an altar and named it, “The LORD is my Banner” (Exodus 17:15), testifying to the work that God had done on behalf of the people. It received the “name” of God because it was meant to glorify God.
The Jews use a similar argument about Jeremiah 33:16, where Jerusalem receives the “name” of God: “ In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 33:16). But rather than cutting down the truth I am arguing for, actually defends it. The prophet first declared that Christ is the true God from whom righteousness flows (Jeremiah 23:6). He then declares that the Church would be made so knowledgeable of Christ that she would be to glory in assuming His very name. In the first passage, the source of righteousness is laid forth: Christ. In this passage, we see the effect of Christ’s righteousness: we, too, are declared righteous and receive His name.