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Jesus – God’s Greatest Agent

J. Dan Gill

They Do “YHWH Things”

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and through the night the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind and turned it into dry land, and the waters were divided (Ex. 14:21).

Who has seen such marvelous things? God’s prophets and deliverers do amazing works. Miracles, wonders and signs give credibility to the words they speak and bring success to their missions. Yet none of these works are done by their own abilities. Moses stretches out his hand over the water, but it is the “breath” (NIV, NLT) of YHWH (the LORD) that blows upon the sea and causes it to separate (Ex. 15:10).[1]

The sea parts at the raising of Moses’ staff (Ex. 14:16). At the direction of the prophet Elisha, Naaman dips seven times in the Jordan River and is cured of leprosy (2 Kings 5:10–14). By Elijah, fire comes from heaven upon the sacrifice of the LORD (1 Kings 18:36–38). Another time, the prophet causes rain to be withheld from the land (1 Kings 17:1). On still another occasion, a woman’s son is brought back to life (1 Kings 17:17–24).

These men and women of God do “YHWH things”: things that we would expect only God to do. The works that they do can even rightly be said to have been done by God. Yet they themselves are not YHWH.

God’s prophets and deliverers do amazing things. However, they do not act on their own. The God who sends them to his people also fully equips them for their missions. He equips them according to whatever deliverance is needed:

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

It is not by human might or power that Zerubbabel will succeed. Rather, it is by the active presence of God. It is by his spirit that wonderful works will be accomplished.

When the Messiah’s day comes, God greatly equips him. He too does YHWH things. Like Zerubbabel, he does all his great works by the spirit of the LORD (Isa. 61:1, 2; cf. Luke 4:1, 18–21). Like Moses and others, he does miraculous signs ( John 3:2; 11:47). His disciples also do great things (Acts 5:12).

The fact that God’s prophets and deliverers do these amazing works does not mean that they themselves are YHWH. Neither are they God-men, or angel-men or some other kind of super-beings. Rather, they are people who are empowered by his spirit. They do all of their works by the spirit of God. That demonstrates that they are true human beings. If they were otherwise, perhaps they would have innate abilities and not need the working of God’s spirit to do these things.

They Are God’s Human Agents

God’s prophets and deliverers are his agents.[2]  They speak his word, but do not originate it. He gives them power, and they come in his name. They act on his behalf according to the measure of authority that he gives them. To reject an agent of God is to reject God himself. On the other hand, to receive those he sends is to receive him.

What is done by an agent of God can rightly be said to have been done by God. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion indicates:

Agent (Heb. Shaliah): The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “A person’s agent is regarded as the person himself ” (Ned. 72B; Kidd, 41b). Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal.[3]

Notice again the language regarding David in our earlier example:

By my servant David, I will save my people (2 Sam. 3:18).

The people could rightly say that David was their savior, or that God saved Israel through David. Both are true. Such is the extraordinary relationship between God and his agents.

However, an agent should never be confused with his principal. An agent of God is by definition not God. The concept of agency in the Bible has never been well understood by many Christians. Angels, prophets and deliverers — including the Messiah — are all extraordinary agents of God Almighty. By misunderstanding their roles as his agents, people have at times erroneously proposed that God was an angel; that the Messiah was an angel or a “God-man” and other fantastic ideas. None of these things is true according to the Bible.

Jesus – God’s Greatest Agent

Moses, Joshua, Deborah, David, Daniel: names known and honored among human beings for thousands of years. These and many others are God’s prophets and deliverers. But who shall be named the greatest among them? The prophets themselves have already answered that question: It is God’s Messiah! By their testimony it is this man who is the center of all of God’s plans for humanity and our planet.

They foresee his life and the spirit of God upon him (Isa. 11:2). They tell the people that Messiah himself will be a prophet of God (Deut. 18:15); that God will put his words in his mouth (Deut. 18:18, 19). They tell them that by his knowledge, he will make many righteous and bear their iniquities (Isa. 53:11). He will be God’s ultimate prophet and deliverer. But his time was not yet. The prophets of old could only look forward to his day and the deliverance he would bring. But then his day did come! Happily, we live in that day. We now see the Messiah more clearly than the prophets of old did. We are highly privileged — and we greatly rejoice.

Jesus is God’s apostle to us (Heb. 3:1), his special envoy and empowered representative. We now see more clearly than the prophets did that the Messiah was called by God to do greater things than even Moses. God gave Jesus the unique mission of bringing hope and salvation not only to the Jews, but to all of humanity. To accomplish the salvation of human beings, he had to truly be one of us — a real human being (Rom. 5:19). Yet because he really was one of us, by his own testimony he could “do nothing” of himself ( John 5:30). Hence, God wonderfully equipped this man to accomplish  things that were more extraordinary than anything done by anyone before or since.

By the power of God, Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead and did other amazing things (Acts 2:22; Matt. 12:28). God gave him unique authority to forgive the sins of his fellow men (Matt. 9:6–8; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24). By the power of the spirit of God, Jesus lived a sinless life and then gave himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the rest of us. The writer of Hebrews indicates that Christ, “through the power of the eternal spirit offered himself to God as an unblemished sacrifice for our sins” (Heb. 9:14).

Because Jesus greatly pleased God (2 Pet. 1:17), God raised him from the dead (Acts 5:30), took him up into heaven (Luke 24:51), and seated him at his own right hand (Acts 5:31). So we see then that it is not an angel or a God-man who sits at God’s right hand: it is one of us — a true human being (Heb. 10:12; Acts 7:56). God, by the power of his spirit, has made this man, even now, to be the head over the church (Eph. 1:20–22). He is the leader of the people that he has redeemed to God (Rev. 5:9). God has determined that Jesus will come again and establish his kingdom upon the earth (Matt. 5:5; 2 Tim. 4:1). By the incredible favor and power of his Father, this man will be doing amazing “YHWH things” for all eternity.

Gill, J. Dan (2016). They Do “YHWH Things.” In, The One: In Defense of God (pp. 163-167). Nashville, TN: 21st Century Reformation Publishing.

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[1] The word for “breath” in Exodus 15:10 is ruach which is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 for spirit. In both Exodus and Genesis, it is the one on the throne who “in presence” moves upon the waters.

[2] The common Hebrew word for “agent” is shaliah which is comparable to apostolos in Greek. It indicates an authorized envoy or empowered representative.

[3]  The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion, R. J. Z. Werblowsky, G. Wigoder, eds. (New York: Adama Books, 1996), 15.

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