Trinity in the Old Testament
The Old Testament proclaims the father clearly, but the son in a way difficult to recognize. Therefore, by, part by part could they progress from clarity to clarity and could they be enlightened with the light of the Trinity. The Trinitarian concepts are more explicitly laid out in the New Testament, they are implicitly revealed in the Old Testament. Belief in the Trinity is based on the incarnation of God in Christ. The foreshadowing of this doctrine can be found in the Old Testament. According to St. Bonaventure, "The mystery of the Blessed Trinity was the general law of preparation; this distinctively Christian doctrine is foreshadowed on many pages of the Old Testament.
1. The Birth of the Word Trinity
The word Trinity does not appear as a theological term until near the end of the second century. Theophilus first used it as Trias, the Bishop of Antioch in 180ad and later by Tertullian as Trinitas to signify that God exists in three persons. Through the centuries, the doctrine has been violently attacked and robustly defended. A doctrine then is nothing else than the facts almighty God made known to human beings by revelation, facts about in Himself, or about God in his relations with His creatures.
2. Mystery of Trinity in Unity
There is one point in scripture, that is when God is revealed in three persons simultaneously and sometimes that event is depicted as a representation of the trinity. 'Not the baptism of Jesus; there we see Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as a dove but only hear the voice of God. When do we see all three visible? The Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the Oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked and beholds three men stood in front of him [Gen 18:1-2]. St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Hilary and the Fathers generally, interpret this incident as a veiled manifestation of the mystery of the Trinity.
The triple Sanctus of Isaiah, " Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God of Hosts [ Gen 6:3] and the tribe blessing recorded in Numbers [Gen:6:24-26] have also been pointed out as heralding the sublime mystery of the Trinity in Unity.
3. The Use of Plural Form
Genesis 1:26-27 verses are the most important because here God uses Plural forms "Let us make man in Our image". I have separated the plural forms into nouns, pronouns, verbs and as adjectives. Let see what they mean;
- The plural nouns as [God- Elohim, Lord- Adonai] are the two most frequently used nouns of God in the Old Testament.
- Three plural pronouns [we, our, us] used to different times in four different passages [Gen 1:26;3:22;11:7;Isa 6:8]
- Five plural verbs are applied to God as creates, makes, wanders, reveals and Judges.
God often speak in the plural form of Himself [Gen 1:26]. Let us make man to Our image and likeness [Gen 3:22].
- Plural adjectives that describe God as Holy. Finally, God's Oneness is conveyed by personal pronouns like He, His, I, Myself, Me. So the trinity is witnessed in the Old Testament by personal pronouns like We, Us, Ours.
The plural nouns and pronouns applied to God, like We, Us, Our, Elohim,
Adonai are powerful evidence of the Trinity hidden in the Old Testament. The almost exclusive use of the plural Elohim for God and Adonai for Lord, make a strong case that any honest seeker could see. Therefore, this extensive pattern is irrefutable.
4. The Trinitarian Doctrine as Father, Word, Wisdom and Spirit
The Old Testament foreshadows the Trinitarian doctrine to express faith in the trinity. Bobringkog says that Old Testament is intersected by Trinitarian intimations and a gradual though still limited awareness. Though there is limited, awareness some of the names used to refer to God could anticipate the three persons of the Trinity, which become clearer in the New Testament. The important among them are Father, Word, Wisdom and Spirit.
4.1. God as Father
God is called Father because he is the creator, lawgiver and protector. God is called 'Father' in a previously unheard of sense, besides being the creator and nurturer of creation, and the provider for his children his people.
4.2. God as Father in ProtoCannonical Books
The people of Israel have become God's first born after they delivered from the slavery [Ex 4, 22-23; Hos 11, 1]. We could see that Moses was asking the people of Israel regarding Yahweh, "Is he not your Father?" [Deu 32, 6]. The people of Israel are God's sons and daughters [Deu 32, 19; Is 1, 2; 30, 1] and by electing and adopting them, God gave birth to them [Deu 32, 18].
4.3. God as Father for Rulers
In ancient time, the rulers were considered as sons of God the covenantal relationship between King David and God is said that God will be a Father to Him [2sam7, 12-15]. In Psalm 2, 7 God says to the king that he has anointed him. The royal son of David was a divine choice not by physical Son of God. The Psalm 89, 26-29 addresses God as Father. The prophets were telling the reality of the people, how were not ready to be faithful and true to God and the people failed to acknowledge his Fatherhood. However, Jeremiah depicts Yahweh as the Father and bridegroom [Jer 3, 4-5].
God thought that they would call him Father, but they fell into idolatrous attitude and called upon trees as their Father [Jer 2, 27]. However, during Exile, Israelites expressed the hope that God's parental power would bring them house [Jer 31, 9]. When the people of Israel returned to the Promised Land, they expressed their trust in the Lord as Father. Israelite called upon Yahweh is their Father and as the potter who gave shape to them [Is63, 16; 64,6-8].
4.4. God as Father in Deutrocanonical Books
In the book of [Tobit 13, 4] Lord is addressed as God and Father. The book of Wisdom speaks of God's fatherly providence, which controls ships, seas, and all creation [Wis 14, 3]. Even some ungodly persons claim that God is their Father [Wis 2, 16]. The name Father expressed God's deep involvement in the story of Israel, its kingly leaders and righteous ones.
4.5. The Father, True God
I will bring them back in mercy, for I am a Father to Israel Jer 31, 9.
From this time call to me, thou art my Father Jer 3, 4.
Thou, O Lord, art our Father, from everlasting is thy name Is 63, 16.
O Lord, thou art our Father and we are clay Is 64, 8.
God the father could have created millions of beings instead of ourselves; but he chose us out of a love wholly undeserved saying, "With age old love I have loved You" [Jer 31,3]. So this proves that God is true God and Father for all in this world.
4.6. The Son true God
The Lord has said to me, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. [Ps 2,7; 109,1-3]. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel [Is 7, 14; Is 9,6; 45,14]. These are the examples to mention about that the Son is true God.
4.7. Parental Tenderness of God
The Old Testament does not speak of God as Mother but God is countered to a woman who suffers in childbirth and also comforts the suffering people. He is also very kind, compassion and tenderness. God parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence the intimacy between creator and creature.
5. God Is: Word, Wisdom, Spirit
In the Old Testament Wisdom, Word and Spirit serve as agents of divine activity. They are not formally recognized as persons but with personal characteristics. The Old Testament presentation of Wisdom, Word and Spirit provide the language used to express the New Testament experience of the Tri personal God.
The Word is also having a role in the creative work. The Word of God comes down like rain and snow. Word has creative and conserving functions. The Holy Scripture the omnipotence of the Word of God that comes from his mouth and does not return to him without fulfilling its mission [Is 55, 11]. The Word expresses God's creative, revelatory and salvific activity.
God acts and he speaks. The Hebrew word 'dabar' means 'Word' and 'Deed'. God speaks by acting and he acts by speaking. He is really present in what he says. God has pledged himself. He spoke his word at creation and the life of heaven and earth began to unfold. Everything that exists discloses [incarnated] his word. He also gave his word to Israel through the Sinai covenant he made with them.
God's Word is a creative word and a saving word. It cannot be retracted because God is one with his word. God is the absolute mystery, yet deals historically with the fathers; it is above all through the 'word', in which he is actively present and in the Spirit which enables one to understand the word that God reveals and offers himself to man.
Here the word 'wisdom' is personified because wisdom or Sophia becomes increasingly related to divine work of creation, providence and salvation and grows along the Old Testament sapiential thinking. Monotheistic explain the word 'Wisdom' as the functions and attributes of God. The Patriarchal Religion says that it is like feminine character for example the following books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, Wisdom, Tobit and Baruch attributes of divine wisdom which is utterly precious and beyond the reach of human beings.
In the book of proverbs Wisdom is presented as preaching like a prophet. Her claims are dramatic. Listening to her [wisdom] brings salvation and disobedience leads to destruction. Begotten of God, she existed with God and co operated in creation. Related to God, creation and humans, she invites everyone to Join the feast of food and wine which symbolize the doctrine and virtue coming from God. Lady wisdom's house and banquet provide language for the New Testament interpretation of Jesus the divine wisdom in person.
The book of Sirach tells that wisdom is coming from the mouth of the most high. Therefore, Sirach identifies Sophia with Yahweh's will and guidance. In the book of wisdom that is written shortly before Christ's birth, wisdom is presented in salvific terms, identified with the spirit and associated with God's work. The word wisdom and the Spirit are here however not mentioned as single persons but as powers of God.
The term Spirit is used in the Old Testament nearly 400 times to articulate the creative, revelatory and redemptive activity of God. God's power highlighted as wind, breath of life and as divine inspiration. At the time of creation spirit hovered over the waters [Gen 1, 2]. Through Word and Spirit, God is reacting out to humankind. By his Word, Yahweh lighted the way for his people, gave them the meaning of their history and directed them to the future.
The Hebrew word ruha has the ordinary meaning of breath or wind. It is used for the wind which being intangible, has God as its immediate cause [Gen 8,1; Amos 4,13,Is 40,7] God gives vital force, the spirit of life[ Is 42,5; Ezek 37,6]. The spirit of God is the effective divine power and it is the force behind the cherubim [Ezek 1,12], behind Samson Jud 13,25. The spirit of God induces ecstasy [Num 11,25]. The Spirit of God is specifically God's creative power which creates physical life that gives mental abilities, passions, wisdom and moral powers, effects judgments.
The life giving element of God is the principle which gives physical life [Job 33,4; 34,14] and that which gives man insight Job 32,8; pro 20,27]. As there is Oneness between God and his Word, there is an Oneness between God and his word; it follows that there is an intimate bond in bible between word and spirit. God communicates through his word so he is depicted in scripture as knowingly himself through his spirit.
God's word is expressed in the world, so must God's spirit be, God, his word, his spirit or better. God although his word and spirit are present in everything God is and does. The whole world s a word of God filled with the creators' inspiration.
This statement proves that whenever God acts or speaks his spirit is at work, whenever something marvelous and new is to be done God's spirit is at hand. When God acts graciously, whenever he brings order from 'chaos and dark night'
or life from death the spirit is the agent of God, when the prophet speaks for God he receives God's Spirit which endows him with gifts of wisdom and understanding that do not originate in man. Finally, Spirit is depicted as counselor or helper guiding the people in the way of the truth.
6. Personification of Wisdom, Word and Spirit
Wisdom, Word and Spirit are the source in Old Testament to play an important role in the evolution of the Trinitarian concept in New Testament. Seeing God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit found its roots in the Old Testament. Wisdom, Word and Spirit took on divine roles but within God's control. They were sometimes identified with God yet distinct.
The word created all things and people [Jud 16, 14; Wis 9, 1-2]. The word spoke through the prophets and acted against the first born of the Egyptians [Wis 18,15-16]. The spirit took possession of the prophets including even the non-Israelite Balaam [Num 22, 1-24]. So in the Old Testament word, wisdom and spirit are personifications of God's activity.
The vivid personifications of Wisdom, Word and Spirit in as much as they were both identified with God and the divine activity and distinguished from God, opened up the way towards recognizing god to be Tri personal.
The personification of divine forces ordained to the world the word, the wisdom, the spirit of God which are distinct from God and are still not intermediate powers between God and the word are formally and materially preludes to a doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament.
7. My Own Interpretation of God as a Mother
Let me give a gist of my interpretation of God as a Mother in a poetic way. Please you spare some time with me and know my real feeling from this poem. This poem is written by me for the competition a few year back.
Mother, O my dear mother,
I am a gift of God to you and to the world,
Do not abandon or reject me in the name of abortion.
Now don't you hear my cry?
As creation of God; I am an illumination for the Vision.
Loving mother, my expectation is to see the creation of the world,
Making you joyful; to hear God's words often repeating
"The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb
He named me"
Allow me to take a resolution with liberation.
Dear mother, my Vision to find out God in the form of mission
Attention of mine is concentration on Evangelization.
The proclamation against abortion the separation of God and man.
Mother Mary's conception, Bringing Jesus to a Vision by his Incarnation and Ascension,
Giving redemption as sending the Holy Spirit for the consecration of Mission.
Loving child, liberation to you with my suggestion, for Mission with Vision
Forgiving your enemy, loving your opponent, trusting your friend
Serving the needy, giving an example, being Christ-like,
Bringing Salvation to one and all in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist;
Recitation of the Rosary throughout the year till the end.
This last paragraph is not said by the mother but by God who saved me from my mother's womb. While I was in my mother's womb I was aborted for many times by God's grace, he gave me a life to see him and know him well. That's why I say God is my Mother forever and ever.
In the Old Testament, there is no Trinitarian Theology in the literal, formal and explicit sense. However, we find in it, in an increasing way, an expectation, openness and scattered data that acquire specific form and structure that becomes clearer as Trinity in the New Testament. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is already the forerunner of the word. The word prepares his coming by progressive incarnations which help man to recover his original image be lost.
The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is certainly not revealed in the Old Testament. In accordance with the general plan of the divine economy, merely foreshadows "The revelation of the mystery which was kept secret from eternity which now is made manifest by the scriptures, according to the precept of the eternal God, for the obedience of faith, known among all nations.