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The Word Made Flesh...
Marc Chagall

The Word Made Flesh

Further thoughts on the Incarnation...

by John J. Parsons

Isaiah 7:14  Hebrew text
click for hebrew audio

"Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel."

At Sinai the voice of God spoke from the midst of the fire (Deut. 4:33), an event that foreshadowed the great advent of the King and Lawgiver Himself, when the Eternal Word would become flesh and dwell with us (Phil. 2:6-7; John 1:1,14). Any theology that regards God as entirely transcendent (i.e., God is beyond any analogy with the finite) will have a problem with divine immanence (i.e., God is inherent within the finite), since the highness, holiness, and perfection of God will make Him seem distant, outside of us, far away, and unknown... Incarnational theology, on the other hand, manifests the nearness of God to disclose the divine empathy. Indeed, the LORD became "Immanuel," "God with us," to share our mortal condition, to know our pain, and to experience what it means to be wounded by sin, to be abandoned, alienated, forsaken. The "Eternal made flesh" bridges the gap between the realm of the infinitely transcendent One, and the finite world of people lost within their sinful frailty. We therefore celebrate the giving of the Torah both at Sinai and especially the giving of the "Living Torah" at Bethlehem with the birth of Messiah. We rejoice that God is indeed the King and Ruler over all, but we further affirm that God's authority and rule extends to all worlds - including the realm of our finitude and need...

The goal of Sinai was the revelation of the Sanctuary. The two tablets of the law, summarizing the Ten Commandments, were stored inside the famous Ark of the Covenant, a sacred "three-in-one" box placed in the innermost chamber of the Tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. As such, the Ark served as kisei ha-kavod, the Throne of Glory itself. Upon the cover (or crown) of the Ark (i.e., the kapporet) were fashioned two cherubim (i.e., angel-like figures) that faced one another (Exod. 25:17-18). According to the Talmud (Succah 5b), each cherub had the face of a child - one boy and one girl – and their wings spread heavenward as their eyes gazed upon the cover (Exod. 25:20). It was here that God's Voice would be heard during the Yom Kippur service, when sacrificial blood was sprinkled upon the crown to symbolize the atonement of sin secured through Messiah, the Word made flesh for us... In the very heart of the Sanctuary, then, we see the Word of God and the sacrficial blood.

God Almighty was clothed with human skin: our flesh, our bones... The miracle of the incarnation is a great paradox wherein the infinite and the finite meet in the mystery of the Divine Presence. Here God "touches a leper," eats with sinners and prostitutes, sheds human tears, and suffers heartache like all other men – and dies for our sins... The Creator of the cosmos has "emptied Himself" to come in the form of a lowly servant – disguised to the eyes of the proud and hardhearted, but is revealed as High Priest to those who are genuinely broken and in profound need...


Addendum:

Do not suppose for a moment that the Torah of Moses does not teach "incarnational" theology. Since God created human beings in his image and likeness, the "anthropomorphic language" of Scripture is meaningful. The LORD reveals himself in human terms - using human language, expressing human emotions, and so on, as it says: Moses spoke to God panim el panim - "face to face" (Deut. 34:10). The Torah always has to take on human form - the Word made flesh - for the sake of human beings who live in flesh and blood reality...

The greatest expression of God's word is found in the Presence of Yeshua. This is the Word of God that "tabernacles" with us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Yeshua is the "Living Torah," Immanuel (עִמָּנוּ אֵל), "God with us," who enters our world to rescue us from death. Our Scriptures state that "in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed the Heir of all things, through whom also He created the worlds" (Heb 1:2). Note that the Greek construction for the phrase translated, "by his son" is ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, which literally means "he spoke to us in Son" -- that is, in the language or voice of the Son of God Himself... God speaks the language "of Son" from the midst of the fire revealed at Zion. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe (μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ εὐλαβείας) - for our God is Esh Okhelah - a Consuming Fire" (Heb. 12:28-29).

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew Transliteration
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hineh ha'almah hara ve'yoledet ben, vekarat shemo immanu El

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