"God is One"

Some time ago, during a deputation tour, my wife and I were invited to meet with several Israelis. They had taken it upon themselves to prepare a meal for us and we enjoyed both the food and the fellowship together. Later in the day a spiritual discussion developed. One of the young men, Noah, said, “Christians believe Jesus is God” but added, “Our faith is based upon God’s word: ‘Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God the LORD is one!’” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Jewish people love a challenge

This was a good opportunity to ask if the group knew that the Hebrew word for “one” (echad), in the text quoted, was used in the Tanakh in a plural context! Someone commented that this was so and we agreed to continue discussing the topic. Together we read God’s account in Genesis 2:24 of the man and the woman becoming “one flesh”. The Israelis seemed surprised, recognising that the word in this verse refers to two separate persons becoming one. Without any prompting Rena, one of the young women in the group, suddenly said, “I have never read the New Testament”! Vicky responded by handing her a copy, which she accepted, assuring us it would be read. Noel wanted to continue the study, so we turned to Judges 20:11: “All the men of Israel were … united together as one man”. The group noted that in this verse echad refers to 400,000 persons! Noel’s brow was beginning to pucker and we took this as a sign that we should continue the discussion.

Only one son

We went on to read how the Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham about his willingness to sacrifice his only son (Genesis 22). The Hebrew word used for “only son” is yachid, which means “one and only one”. We continued by discussing the Hebrew prophet’s words in Zechariah 12:10: “They will mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son”. Again the group noted the word for “only son” or “one and only son” was yachid. We asked why, in their opinion, Moses hadn’t used this word in Deuteronomy 6:4 as this would have left no doubt in our minds that God was an absolute unity? At this stage there was silence!

Before leaving, we gave a copy of the Bible to Noel for we are confident that if our friends continue to seek the truth, God will honour his promise, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Later we learnt that Noel had been reading the copy of the Scriptures we had given him and comparing it with his Hebrew Bible. We continue to rejoice in our hearts knowing that God will reveal himself to those who seek the truth.

This article first appeared in the December 2004 edition of the Herald

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