There are many things that separate Christianity from every other religion on earth, but nothing is more central than the Trinity. An important part of apologetics, and keeping our kids Christian, is to make the case that the Trinity is all over the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. For several hundred years of her beginning, the Church struggled with how to make sense of Scripture, that there is one God, but that Jesus also clearly claimed the mantel of divinity. While critics of Christianity claimed that the concept of a Triune God is illogical and absurd, they refused to wrestle with the texts of Scripture that have Triune implications. I learned of one in a recent Advent sermon at our church.
In a series of sermons in Isaiah, our pastor explained that the the suffering servant who is to pay the penalty for our sin is nothing less than the Lord God Almighty. Three verses that use the phrase “high and exalted” point us to another one that justifies such a conclusion. The first reference is in Isaiah 6:1:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
And in this passage the angels declare, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” It is no coincidence that the Lord is thrice spoken of as holy, and Isaiah’s response is fitting for a confrontation with ultimate holiness, sheer terror. Instead of the popular conception of a nice, tottering old grandfather, the God of Israel is a consuming fire, and terrifying to sinners. Isaiah here says that this God is “high and exalted.” The phrase is not used lightly in Isaiah, as we see again in 33:5:
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
Again, it is the Lord alone who is “high and exalted,” which cannot be said of any human being. Later in the book (57:15) he uses the phrase again:
For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy . . .
This holy God who lives forever is “high and exalted,” a phrase that leaves no room for confusion of the divine nature of this God. He is above and apart and wholly other from every created thing. But we get a hint in the section of Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant (52:13 through 53) that he is not so wholly separate from his creation that he could not become part of it. That conclusion would come later with the ultimate revelation of God in Christ, but this servant we learn of in Isaiah is one of whom “high and exalted” also applies (52:13):
See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
The very next verse describes what is going to happen to this servant, and it is appalling. Only Jesus at the hands of Roman sadist soldiers can explain what we read, yet this one is also highly exalted? Yes! This servant will be God himself! It’s crazy, but the whole testimony of Scripture confirms it. Two times in Jeremiah (23:6 and 33:16) we read that Yahweh, The Lord, is our righteousness. And Paul confirms that Jesus himself “has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Jesus, the Lord, is himself our righteousness. And reading the rest of the account of the suffering servant we learn that this will be accomplished by the servant taking the punishment for our sin.
Seen in light of redemptive history, the Trinity makes perfect sense, regardless of human inability to conceive of it. That’s why God gave us his special revelation because we couldn’t figure this out on our own from general revelation in nature. But it also makes perfect sense logically. We live in a world of persons, i.e., us, and only persons can love vis-a-vis other persons. We are made in God’s image, and thus if God is love, then God is a person, and in eternity he must have had other persons to love or he could not be love. Thus the Trinity!