Home > Bible Study, Isaiah, S. Lewis Johnson > The Trinity in the Old Testament: Isaiah 48

The Trinity in the Old Testament: Isaiah 48


From S. Lewis Johnson’s Isaiah series come the following insights regarding Isaiah 48:12-16.

This passage contains a plea of God, for faith on the part of Israel.  This plea has several bases:
1)  Israel is My called; hearken unto me and trust Me (Isaiah 48:12).

2)  Israel’s Covenant Keeping God — “I am He.”  The passage emphasizes God’s complete sovereignty.  God is sovereign in time (v.12) “I am the first, and I am the last,” sovereign in space (v. 13 creation), and sovereign in history.  We also know who this “I am he” refers to:  Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity.  In Revelation (verse ref here), Jesus applies the very next words, “I am the first and the last,” to Himself.  John’s Gospel also includes Jesus’s frequent use of the words “I am” and “I am He.”

3)  Divine calling of Israel’s God.  The last clause tells us, “And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.”

Well said S. Lewis Johnson in an earlier message that the last part of the book of Isaiah (chapters 40-66) can be called “Isaiah’s Gospel.” For here we also have an Old Testament teaching of the triune God, the Christian understanding of the trinity.  Through the progressive revelation of scripture that began with Moses’ declaration, “Hear, O  Israel, the Lord thy God is one God,” we now see God preparing Israel, in its further history here in Isaiah, to understand God’s three-in-one nature.

For the words “And now the Lord God has sent me” refer to two persons:  the “Lord God” is the Father, and “me” is the “I am he, the first and the last” at the beginning of this passage (verse 12) — Jesus Christ the Son.  The verse also tells us that God has “sent” both “me” (the “I am he,” Jesus Christ) and “his Spirit.”  The Spirit is also someone that can be “sent” — not some impersonal emanation, but a person.

SLJ also gives some interesting information concerning the Hebrew words used in the Jewish saying, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”  The Hebrew language has two words for unity (compound unity and absolute unity), and that verse literally says “Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah a unity” — Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad.  The compound unity word Ehad is the one used in the place where we read that man and wife shall marry and the two become one flesh.  The other word, for absolute unity, is used in the text where God refers to Abraham’s son Isaac as “his only son.”  The Hebrew word for absolute unity is never used to describe God.  As S. Lewis Johnson explains:

Jehovah our God is Jehovah Ehad, a compound unity.  As a matter of fact, as the progressive divine revelation unfolds we could take the Shema Yisrael, the great credo of Judaism and say “Jehovah our God is Jehovah a trinity.”  Now, Jehovah our God is Jehovah a Godhead, compound unity, and the details are spelled out as the revelation unfolds.  Here in Isaiah we are getting preparation for the time when we shall read of Father, Son and Spirit.

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