The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
It was the Elohim that the Lord Jesus called his Father, and he made the astonishing statement that "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 (Mat. xi. 27) I.
In the effort to reveal the Father, we necessarily assume thereby to be the son, which does not mean that we assume to have in mind the Lord Jesus Christ who was here nineteen hundred years ago, for the apostle declared the great truth, "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be" (I. John iii. 2); and the Lord Jesus left on record the commandment, "Call no man your father upon earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven" (Mat. xxiii. 9).
If we are to reveal to you the Father, it is because we have followed the leadings of the Spirit until the Father has revealed himself unto us. But that revelation to our soul cannot become knowledge to you. We make the effort to reveal to you in words that which we have come to know
as absolute truth, and you only obtain the knowledge of that truth by the knowledge of the Spirit; "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. viii. 14); and the Son of God said, nineteen hundred years ago, "If I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you" (John viii. 55). Therefore it behooves us to give you evidence from the Scriptures of Truth, which some of you hold dear.
The very first utterance of the Old Testament is, "In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth." The noun Elohim is in the plural form, and it would have been correct had the sentence been translated, "In the beginning the Gods created the heaven and the earth." Some authorities have ingeniously tried to evade the consequences of the plural noun in this case by explaining that it is a "plural of excellence." Others hold that it signifies a plurality of attributes or manifestations; but the fact stands out incontrovertibly that throughout is meant a plurality of individuals, and when we reach the 26th verse, we read that Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
The thought here is unquestionably that of a company of persons of whom one says to the others, Let us do thus and soit is not, I will make. (We are not, however, presenting to you a plurality of gods, but a God organized of many members; therefore one God.) In the Hebrew "Let us make"
is a verbal form in the plural, emphasizing the conception of plurality quite as much as is done in the English. We are thus brought face to face with language which images this picture to our minds: A plurality of Godsor Personalities, if you pleasedeciding upon a concerted work that is to be accomplished, and working together as one body, one man, for the accomplishment of the work agreed upon.
In the second chapter of Genesis begins the use of the name Yahveh, frequently in connection with that of the ElohimYahveh Elohim. In the consideration of the name Yahveh we have tried to present it as the embodiment of the idea of the Universal Spirit, the Mind and Will which is the source of all life, mind and action. Consequently, in the union (unity) of the two Divine names, Yahveh Elohim, is brought to light throughout the Scriptures, and in cases too numerous to mention, the conception of the final attainment of man being the unity of his mind and will with the mind and will of God.
Reasoning along this line of thought we come to the following conclusion: Yahveh being the source of all life, of all mind, of all actionSpirit, man in his creation must have been formed of the substance of Yahveh, as Yahveh is the source of all that is. And not only is he the cause of all energy, but his Infinite Mind is the source of all order; and in order there must be a purpose, for without a
purpose mind is in discord. Therefore, when Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," that declared purpose necessarily embodied the thought of taking of the Father and forming the Son; and, while we have no authority in the Scriptures for the statement, we have reason to believe from what has been said that the Elohim are a body of men that, in the æons of time past, were created even as we have been created, and that, having developed through all the experiences of an earthly life, they attained to the unity of their mind and will with the mind and will of their Creator; and, as to the processes of evolution, development, there is no end, they have passed on in knowing the Father, Yahveh, becoming more and more like him, until they have reached heights of attainment so far beyond the possibility of our conception that they have become the Creators, Preservers and Rulers, not of this earth alone, but probably of the whole solar system.
Thus they have become the embodiment and expression of Yahveh, and have a right to be called Yahveh Elohim; and when they said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," they expressed the thought that man, their creation, must pass through all the experiences of an earth life, as they themselves had done, and that, in order to go on in his attainment to that likeness, he must turn his thought and aspiration toward Yahveh, and seek with all his heart to be like him, in perfect
harmony with the laws that gave him (man) existence, with the life of which he is the embodiment. When man has reached the point in his experience, where, through knowledge, he is able to give free expression to the life that animates him, he will awaken to the realization that he is the embodiment of Yahveh, and in his unity with the body that is to be formed (see chapter entitled "The Image of God."), he becomes the image of Elohim. That isas we shall have occasion to say further onthe "image" spoken of by Elohim in Gen. i. 26, was not that of one man, but of a plurality of men; as the Spirit said by the apostle, speaking as by the Christ, "a body hast thou prepared for me," "many members in one body, and all members" in that body. (See Rom. xii.)
Consequently, the revelation of Elohim in material and spiritual form must necessarily be found in the revelation of the ultimation of the expressed purpose to make man in his image and like him. The revelation of this ultimate is brought to light by John the anointed, in his Apocalypse, chaps. i., vii., xiv., xxi. and xxii. One fact, however, is clearly manifest, which is this: All life is of the substance of God; and as Yahveh is one, the one in which not only we, but all that is, lives, moves and has its being, therefore the life of man is the same lifeon a lower plane, howeveras that which animates Yahveh Elohim. Consequently, all are brethren; and, this being true, the Elohim,
through the person of the Lord Christ, called himself our brother, and the mighty angel who gave the Revelation to John and whose glory was so great that the beloved disciple fell down to worship him, said, "See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren." While Elohim rightfully commands our highest love and admiration, and even veneration, yet our worship is of Yahveh; and in our prayers when we feel the need of help, the real need of something, we ask Yahveh Elohim as our Elder Brother.
When we have come to know him, to have some idea of the depth of his love, of the grandeur of his nature, the tenderness of his brooding care of us, we approach him with a confidence that is born of boundless love alonewe feel the absolute assurance that we shall always have that which we desire; for, while Elohim is so far beyond us and so incomprehensible to us, we must remember that we are his special care. No wonder that, by the prophet, he compared us to "the apple of his eye"!the strongest thought-presentation possible. We know how sensitive the eye is, and how much more carefully we preserve it from injury than any other member of the body; such, then, is the loving care and protection extended over us by Yahveh Elohim.
When, through loving devotion to God, our true relation to him begins to be the individual experience, then we shall be given to know God. No
longer through belief, no longer by faith, will we apprehend God, but we shall know the Father, and the Father will reveal himself to us as he does not to the worldreveal himself to us not merely in thought, but we shall see his form, feel his mighty power, hear his words, and be fed from the limitless fountains of his love.
You who would have additional evidence from the Scriptures relative to the truths presented in this chapter, we ask to follow the connection in which the word Elohim is used throughout the Scriptures, and also its use in combination with the name YahvehYahveh Elohim; we think enough has been said to give you a light to illumine your search in this direction.
Some very satisfactory Scriptural evidence as to the unity of the body of the Elohim has been given by Henry Proctor, M. R. A. S., F. R. S. L., in a paper which appeared in The American Antiquarian for January and February, 1905. We quote:
"When the great Moses Maimonides wrote the thirteen articles of the Jewish faith which gave an absolute sense to the unity of the Godhead, which before had been understood in a compound sense, he departed altogether from the teaching of the Hebrew Bible on this point; for it is certain that the unity so strongly affirmed there can be nothing else than a compound unity. If we take these very words, which Jewish children are most carefully taught in order to guard them from believing in the Christian Trinity, viz.: Shema Yisrael
[paragraph continues] Adonai Elohim Adonai echad, * we find that even here it is certainly a compound unity that is expressed by the word echad, one, for this word is derived from the root yachad, to unite, and occurs with a compound meaning, hundreds of times in the Tanach, or Hebrew Bible; as in Numbers xiii. 23, 'A branch with one cluster of grapes,' = many grapes in one cluster, a compound unity. In Judges xx. 1, 8, 11, 'The congregation assembled as one man'; 'all the people arose as one man'; 'knit together as one man.' In all these passages echad denotes a compound unity, as also in Genesis ii. 24, basar echad, 'one flesh.' On the other hand, yacheed, which represents an absolute unity, as in Genesis xxii. 2, 12, 16, 'Only son,' Judges xi, 34, 'Only daughter,' is never used to express the unity of God. And not only was Elohim used with a plural signification, but Yahveh, also, as in Genesis xi. 7, 'And Yahveh said Let Us go down, and let Us confound.' And not only so, but the Messiah is distinctly affirmed to be the son of Yahveh in Psalms ii. 2, 7, for in verse seven He says to 'His Messiah,' Beni attah, 'My Son, Thou art.' In Proverbs xxx. 4, His Son is again mentioned. And the earlier books abound with narratives of the visits of Melech-Yahveh, who is recognized as being Himself, Yahveh, or as the Jews say, 'Adonai Elohim.'
'In a fuller sense the term 'Elohim' included not only the Son, the Messiah, but also the angels, for in the 82nd Psalm, the Supreme God is closely distinguished as Elyon, the Most High (v. 6), and He is represented as standing in the congregation of the Gods, En sunagogue Theon, and charging the angelic rulers of this worldthat is, Satan and his angels'with folly.' Again in Psalm xcvii. 9, cal-Elohim, 'all the Gods,' are commanded to worship the Messiah. This is rendered from the Septuagint in Heb. i. 6, Pantes aggeloi Theou, 'All the angels of God.' In Psalm viii. 5, 'A little lower than Elohim,' is rendered, Brachu ti par aggelous, a 'little lower than angels.' So that in the fuller concept of the Godhead, the Melechim, or Aggeloi, were included in One Divine Unity. So that the Christian idea of the Godhead, is far nearer to that taught by Moses, and in the whole Hebrew Tanach, than the Jewish conception of the present day.
"Delitsch, in his 'Babel and Bibel,' says that the Old North Semitic tribes who settled in Babylon, about B. C. 2500, worshipped 'Yahwe, the existing, enduring one, the one devoid of all change,' and that this Yahwe was the spiritual possession of those same nomad tribes out of which, after a thousand years, the Israelites were to emerge. This Being, they called 'El,' which means 'the goal,' to which the eyes of man looking heavenward are turned,'on whom hangs the gaze of every man.' * From this he thought that the
[paragraph continues] Hebrew idea of God was evolved. But this may be regarded as one evidence among many, of the existence of a primeval worship of El Elyon, the Supreme God, which has been identified with the Ilu Siru of the of Hammurabi. *
"The Biblical conception of God is sometimes stigmatized as anthropomorphic, but this objection is the outcome of ignorance, for although every appearance of celestial beings is described as being in the form of man, yet it is clear, also, that they believed in an Omnipresent, all-pervading, all-sustaining Spirit, corresponding to the teaching of Paul on Mars Hill, that 'He giveth to all, life and breath and all things,' for 'in Him we live and move and have our being;' and to that of John, that 'God is Spirit,' and that 'no man hath seen God at any time.' So that the Biblical conception of God is that of an all-pervading Spirit, who is everywhere, fills all space, fills all things, is the life and intelligence of all things, and the motive power of all things; and that the Messiah and all His messengers are 'His offspring' (genus), 'Sons of the Most High' (Benai El-Elyon); that all were called 'Elohim,' but over them all the Messiah is supreme, and to Him, as one with El Elyon, the worship of all is due."
The thought presented in this chapter regarding Yahveh Elohim will meet with the strongest prejudice arising in the preconceived ideas of long
standing in the mind of the Christian world; ideas which existed, as Professor Proctor says, among the early Semitic tribes. Because of constant touch with lower races who worshipped the sun, moon and stars and the various forces of nature as so many gods, the earliest Semitic thinkers were necessarily driven to the opposite extreme, and in order to preserve their people from leaving the worship of Yahveh Elohim and uniting with the heathen around them in their worship of many gods, they were forced to keep ever before the minds of the people that their God was not divided into many gods, one warring against another, as were those of the heathen, but that he was a Unity, one God. Therefore, as far back as we have any knowledge of it, there have been repeated in the Israelitish ritual the words, "Hear, O Israel: Yahveh our God is one Yahveh," and also the words of the Covenant, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
Now, that the great truth of the multiplicity in unity of the Godhead was known to the writers of the Bible is shown in every utterance in reference to the great Name and in reference to the Elohim; and even in this most emphatic utterance, Shema Yisrael Yahveh Elohim Yahveh echad ("Hear, O Israel: Yahveh thy God is one Yahveh"), it will be seen that the noun Elohim (God) retains a plural form, and that also a plurality in unity is "expressed by the word echad."
But it may be argued that this is not alone a Jewish doctrine, that it was also the doctrine of Christ; for, according to Mark's Gospel, when asked which was the first commandment, he quoted the same words in reply. It is remarkable, however, that, with the exception of Mark, none of the apostles give this form to his reply to the question. Not to question Mark's memory in regard to this matter, the Christ well knew that for many centuries it would be necessary to guard the people against the many gods of the heathen. And did he not well know the dark period through which his revelation must pass before the dawn of the eternal morning?
Were this not true, he would not have told them that he had many things to tell them but that they were not ready to receive them then. Consequently, he made but little effort to reveal to his disciples the great mystery of the bringing together of a body of people and harmonizing them so that they become one body, "many members, and all the members of that one body," all members essential to the constitution of that body. But he laid the foundation for this doctrine in the parable wherein he said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Now, you that think, can readily discern the governing law manifest here: Through the vine flows the same life-giving sap that nourishes all the branches.
Being a member of the body of Yahveh Elohim
he frequently emphasized the thought, "I can of mine own self do nothing," which was equivalent to saying, Severed from the body of the Elohim I have no power. In his last great prayer (John xvii.) he prayed for those who should believe on him, that they might be one, as he and the Father were one: "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." Here in most unmistakable terms is expressed multiplicity in unity, not only in the body of his believers, but also in the body of the Elohim, which he called his Father. Bear in mind the words, "that they may be one, even as we are one"in the same way. This is unmistakable language.
But we will not extend the argument. While a multitude of texts might be quoted from the Scripture to show that what has been said is indubitably a truth, we know how futile argument is, and realizing the force of the words of the Christ we rest these truths upon them: "He that is of God heareth God's words."
129:* "Hear, O Israel, Yahveh, thine Elohim, is Yahveh one."
129: Genesis i. 26.
129: Genesis xviii. 8, 14; Exodus iii. 2 et seq.
130:* Job xxxvi. 25.
131:* "Biblia," June 1902. Vide "Code Hammurabi" and article "El El-yon"
131: Psalm 139. 7-9.