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Christian Biblical Studies
THE ONE GOD
Q Deut. 6:4: ‘Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.’ How is God one?
A This chapter of Deuteronomy follows the long address by Moses (chapters 1-5) in which he summarises the recent history of the nation after they quitted their bondage in Egypt.
The statement, ‘the LORD is one’, introduces the beautiful exhortations of vs. 5-9:
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.
The one-ness in nature of Jehovah demanded of the people a one-ness of devotion, an undivided loyalty from the one nation whom He had chosen from out of all the peoples of earth. Unlike the nations around them, whom they were about to conquer and displace, who kneeled to a variety of gods, the Jewish people were monotheists.
Many years earlier, their one God (‘I’) had revealed Himself to Moses as the eternal and unchangeable ‘I AM’ (Ex. 3:14):
‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”’
The Almighty exists out of time and space. He does not regress nor progress, for He cannot be more or less than He has always been and will be. Nor is He divided into three persons. The doctrine of the Trinity would have been regarded by Moses and the Jewish people as blasphemy. Jesus did not teach it.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy (2: 3-6), the Apostle predicates the redeeming work of Christ on the unity of God, simultaneously identifying God as the originator of the plan of salvation, and thus the true Saviour (emphases added):
God our Saviour . . . wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men the testimony given in its proper time.
It goes without saying that Jesus, here identified as the one Mediator, stands between the one holy God and sinful humanity, and is therefore separate and distinct from God. Such a relationship would have been understood by Moses who, in a typical sense, was a mediator between Jehovah and the people of Israel.