Was the Trinity Clearly Prefigured at the Very Heart of Jewish Worship?

Trinity glass window, depicting Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This window was created before 1900, no property release is required.

One of the foremost Catholic doctrines is that of the Trinity. So firmly did the early Church believe in it that all new Christians had to assent to the Apostle’s or later the Nicene Creed in order to be baptized. A large section of our Catechism is devoted to a fuller explanation of all the beliefs surrounding the different members of the Trinity summarized in the Creed.

It is Jesus’ claim to divinity, without it He is just a prophet and a false one at that. If this radical, eternal precept is valid it should have been recognizably prefigured in the Old Testament, at least by hindsight. It was!

When Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai in the presence of God he brought back more than the Ten Commandments. He brought back very specific instructions on how the Tent of Meeting and the Tabernacle were to be constructed, as well as specific details of liturgical worship.  At the very center was the Ark of the Covenant over which the glory of God rested.  The Ark was shielded from human eyes by a thick curtain.  Once a year on the Day of Atonement could the High Priest enter, and then only after offering sacrifices for his sins and those of the nation.  The Ark of the Covenant prefigured the Father, the unseen God.

Watercolour sketch of series

Just outside the curtain were two other pieces of equipment which were in regular contact with only the priests.  The first was the table for the showbread with a loaf for each tribe.  There six loaves on one side of the table and six on the other side.  There were also cups for the wine libations that were to be poured out.  The loaves of showbread after spending some time in the presence of the Lord were to be eaten by the priests. This clearly prefigures Jesus, especially at the Last Supper with the Apostles gathered around the table.  There they shared the Bread and the Wine that were changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

During the Last Supper Jesus told His disciples, “I am the vine. You are the branches.” This brings us to the other piece of equipment the lampstand.  It was made to look like a tree with many branches and flower blossoms that held the oil for the light.  I want you to picture Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended and tongues of fire appeared over the disciples’ heads.  Is it not a visual reminder of the Lampstand? So the Holy Spirit is also there, prefigured by the Lampstand in the Holiest place of Jewish worship.

Menorah

St. Peter called those who believe in Christ a royal priesthood. We on earth have access to both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, the Father remains hidden from our view until we enter into the heavenly realms. There we will truly understand how the Trinity can be one, but for now consider this.

“One” can have different meanings.  One can mean solo, single, and solitary. The Creator saw Adam was alone, and said that was not good. When God uses the word “one” He can mean so closely united as to be inseparable.  The first time He used that word was in Genesis when He said that man and woman should cleave to each other and become one flesh. This is significant because of what God said when He made man and woman.

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Humanity’s ability to become one with each other was central to our image and likeness of God.  He even used the plural pronouns “us” and “our” to refer to Himself when God created them.

The Jewish people have worshipped unknowingly the Trinity since the beginning of the Jewish liturgical worship.  Humanity just didn’t have the experience of the Trinity to see it.

Reference scriptures: Ex. 25, Lev. 24:5-9, John 15:5, 1 Peter 2:9, Gen. 1:26-28

Special credit to Brant Pitre and his book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

#trcot #tcot #Eucharist #Trinity

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7 thoughts on “Was the Trinity Clearly Prefigured at the Very Heart of Jewish Worship?

  1. First of all to be divine does not mean to be the divine God of gods. Jesus claiming to be a prophet does not mean he would be a false prophet. Why would the other prophets not be false prophets when you say Jesus’ claim would make him a false prophet?

    You placed the ‘us’ in bold wanting your readers to believe god was speaking about more than one person, but He is using the Royal We or Pluralis Majestatis, like any high person or responsible of a country, company or institution would do. such persons like kings and directors or even heads of the family are nto more than one person, though they use the plural form “we” and “us”.

    Jewish people have never worshipped ‘unknowingly the Trinity’ since the beginning of the Jewish liturgical worship. For them it was clear that there was only One True God, the God of Abraham, which was also the God of Jesus.
    You mention “The Ark of the Covenant prefigured the Father, the unseen God.” and should remember that God is an eternal Spirit to whom man nor death can do anything. He has no beginning and no end and can not be seen by man or they would die.

    “And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20 ASV)

    “God is not a man, that he should lie, Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and will he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and will he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 ASV)

    “that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us:” (Hebrews 6:18 ASV)

    when God, who cannot be seen does not lie, do you think he told the truth when He appeared above the man standing in the River Jordan?

    “21 Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. 23 And Jesus himself, when he began [to teach], was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the [son] of Heli,” (Luke 3:21-23 ASV)

    “3 So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the {1} rudiments of the world: {1) Or [elements]; 2 Pe 3:10, 12} 4 but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:3-7 ASV)

    God clearly declared the newly baptised man from Nazareth to be His only begotten son, and not Him. About this son the Bible, which we consider to be the Word of God, tells us also that he was tempted many times, though God cannot be tempted, but that he did not sin, so also always told the truth.
    Pleas”e listen then to the words of Christ Jesus:

    “17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now, and I work. 18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and greater works than these will he show him, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom he will. 22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgment unto the Son; 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that {1} hear shall live. {1) Or [hearken]} 26 For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself: 27 and he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man.” (John 5:17-27 ASV)

    This son of God knew very well his position and did know he could not do anything without God to Whom he prayed and learned others to pry too. He was not a schizoprenic who prayed to himself and asked himself why He (God) would have abandoned him (Jesus).

    God cannot die, but Jesus really did. And after having spend three days in hell (what would god have to do there) he was taken up to his heavenly Father where he now sits at the right hand and not on His throne.

    “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. 28 Ye heard how I said to you, I go away, and I come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe. 30 I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing {1} in me; {1) Or [in me. But that…I do, arise etc]} 31 but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” (John 14:27-31 ASV)

    “Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 ASV)

    “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62 ASV)

    “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19 ASV)

    “But from henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:69 ASV)

    “25 For David saith concerning him, {1} I beheld the Lord always before my face; For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: {1) Ps 16:8 ff} 26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; Moreover my flesh also shall {1} dwell in hope: {1) Or [tabernacle]} 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou madest known unto me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of gladness {1} with thy countenance. {1) Or [in thy presence]} 29 Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us unto this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins {1} he would set [one] upon his throne; {1) Or, one [should sit]} 31 he foreseeing [this] spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus did God raise up, {1} whereof we all are witnesses. {1) Or [of whom]} 33 Being therefore {1} by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear. {1) Or [at]} 34 For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, {1} The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, {1) Ps 110:1} 35 Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. 36 Let {1} all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. {1) Or [every house]}” (Acts 2:25-36 ASV)

    God has always been and shall ever be the Most High, though Jesus was first lower than angels and after his death got made higher and taken up in heaven. God would not have any reason to exalt Himself. It was Jesus who was exalted.

    “Him did God exalt {1} with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. {1) Or [at]}” (Acts 5:31 ASV)

    “55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55-56 ASV)

    “who is he that condemneth? {1} It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. {1) Or [Shall Christ Jesus that died, …us?]}” (Romans 8:34 ASV)

    “which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly [places],” (Ephesians 1:20 ASV)

    “If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1 ASV)

    “who being the effulgence of his glory, and {1} the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; {1) Or [the impress of his substance]}” (Hebrews 1:3 ASV)

    “But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, {1} Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet? {1) Ps 110:1}” (Hebrews 1:13 ASV)

    “but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for {1} sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; {1) Or [sins, for ever sat down etc]}” (Hebrews 10:12 ASV)

    “looking unto Jesus the {1} author and perfecter of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {1) Or [captain]}” (Hebrews 12:2 ASV)

    Having been lower than angels, Jesus already in his lifetime got the authority of God and was able to do miraculous things because God gave him the power and the right to do so.
    Jesus was also allowed to judge the living and the dead but he clearly knows that in the end he will have to give the Kingdom back to Whom it belongs, the Head over everything, the heavenly Father and only One God who is head over all the lords and over all the souls (living beings).

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3 ASV)

    “And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28 ASV)

    May we also remind you that the Bible does not even mention the word “Trinity,” nor does it teach that Jehovah is three persons in one. Jehovah alone is God. First Corinthians 8:6 says: “There is actually to us one God the Father.” Jehovah is the Supreme One. Jesus is, not God, but “the Son of God.” (1 John 4:15) Likewise, the holy spirit is not God. The holy spirit is not even a person. It is God’s active force.—Acts 1:8; Ephesians 5:18.

    May we also ask when you take Jesus to be God, why it comes that so many Catholics do have pictures of him and bow down in front of presentations of Christ, though it is an abomination in the eyes of God and against the commandments of God to make a graven image of God?

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    1. I believe that God did not lie when He called Jesus His Son. Cats beget cats. Man begets men. God created many things but begat only Jesus. Who is therefore His Son. We are children through adoption. IJesus was crucified because He called Gos His Father. When Phillip wanted to see the Father Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father that they were one. As far as the “royal” us goes. God never uses it any other place just when He is talking about His image and likeness. When He is creating different person who can become briefly one. While He is eternally one. The Jews could have had no knowledge of the Trinity because it was not yet revealed yet there in the center of the Tent of Meeting and later in the Temple were the symbols of the Three in One.

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    2. As far as the graven images go in the very Sam conversation that God had with Moses He ordered that two angels be placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant and embroidered on the curtains. He also told Moses to fashiona snake and place it on a pole. If the people would look upon they would be healed. Either God didn’t understand His own commandment or it is more nuanced than you are allowing.

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      1. I don’t know any Catholic who does that. If any does think a piece of wood or marble is capable of anything, they were clearly not catechized very well. Crucifixes and statues are meant to draw the soul into contemplation of the living God. We genuflect when we come into church because of the presence of the Eucharist. Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, so that is appropriate. I’m sure you don’t believe that so we’ll leave that be.

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  2. Wherever do you get it from that ” Jewish people have worshipped unknowingly the Trinity since the beginning of the Jewish liturgical worship. “?

    The people Israel sometimes went off the right track and had moments they worshipped a golden calf or worshipped other gods, but many kept to the only One God, Who is the Divine Creator of heaven and earth. In the Jewish teachings and traditions it has always been a rule to worship only One True God.

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  3. ‎Old Testament affirmations such as Deuteronomy 6:4 (“Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one”) and the prophets’ repeated statements that “there is none besides Jehovah,” can easily lead to the assumption that the old testament Israelites did not believe in the existence of other gods. According to this assumption, the definition of monotheism rules out the existence of other gods. In light of many OT passages, these assumptions cannot be sustained. Rather than producing contradictions within the biblical text, these passages that are often set aside demonstrate how godly Israelites thought about Jehovah and provide a more accurate picture of Israelite monotheism.

    The Bible also speaks about the other gods. The Book of books mentions or calls angels, Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, Moses, Pharaoh, Jesus, gods but that does not mean they are the God of gods. ‘God’ is a title, which means a high or important person and as such the people in charge, rulers, were called gods.

    But for worshipping those gods the people of God knew very well that it is against the wishes of the Divine Creator to worship any other god than Him to Whom belongs all power.

    The Jew Jeshua, now better known as Jesus Christ, knew his Scriptures very well and demanded of his followers also to worship That Only One True God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and the god of so many other prophets and ordinary people who love(d) their Creator.

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