God did not waste any time in revealing His triune nature to us. It can be seen in the very first chapter of Genesis. The first person to point this out to me was actually an ultra-Orthodox rabbi. His name was Yankel Kranz, and he was the leader of the Lubavitch community in Richmond, VA. The Lubavitcher rebbe or ‘pope’ died in 1994, amidst claims that he was the Messiah.
After telling Messianic Jews for years that Isaiah 53 didn’t refer to the Messiah’s suffering (He will come as a reigning king, not a suffering servant—I was told), suddenly Rebbe Menachem Mendelson Schneierson was the fulfillment. Except, to the shock of his followers, he did not rise from the dead. For years, the Lubavitchers stood watch by his grave, but he did not appear. To this day, some believe he will rise.
“In Our Image”
Rabbi Kranz was a kind man. We met weekly, at my parents’ behest, to study the Scriptures. On one of our first meetings, he pointed out Genesis 1:26:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
“Ronnie,” he said, “this does not prove the trinity.”
Being just a new believer, I was not claiming that it did. I was largely ignorant to the Bible.
“What we see here,” he continued, “is God speaking to the angels. He is not speaking to any Son or Holy Spirit, but the angels.”
What did I know? This was all new to me. Buuuuut…. it got me thinking. Is he right? Isn’t he just repeating what the anti-Messianics rabbis taught him to say?
The fact is, Genesis 1:26 is definitely a reference to God’s triune nature. And I can prove it.
Let’s read the whole verse:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)
God says to someone, or to some ones, “Let us make man in our image.” So, in their (their being to whomever he is speaking) image, man will be created.
But it could not be the angels. The angels were not given dominion to rule.
“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Angels, according to Hebrews, are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” Angels serve us, as believers, in carrying out God’s will on earth. They are not rulers. Therefore, he could not have been speaking to the angels.
Image of God
And it says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.” In case there was any confusion, He adds, “in the image of God—not the angels—He created him.” So, to whom was God speaking?
Clearly, the Godhead—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—made this decision in complete unity.
One in Hebrew
Even the Hebrew word for one that is recited in the Shema—“Hear O’ Israel, the Lord your God is one”—connotes unity or plurality. To mean one, you could use the word yachid, which means an individual or a single unit. But echad, as is used here in the Shema, means one in unity. It is the word that God uses when he says, referring to a man and a wife, that the two “will become one (echad) flesh.” And Eve was literally a part of Adam, as God made her from Adam’s rib. From echad we get the Hebrew word for together, yachad—which means together. And this is the word that God uses, echad, when describing Himself.
If I were preaching on the importance of unity, I would not say that we need to be yachid—a single individual unit—but that we need to be echad—one in unity.
Let me give you a better example. Echad emphasizes unity, where as yachid emphasizes a singular entity. If I were to say that someone is the one and only something, I would use yachid. But, if I were to say that the elders of the congregation act as one, I would use echad. God tells the Israelites that He is Echad, not yachid, in the most famous passage in the Hebrew Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4.
While the triune nature of only true God is complex and difficult for our finite minds to fully comprehend, there can be no question that God is revealing this to us, and He begins immediately in the very first chapter of the book of Genesis.