The Bodily Composition of God
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., February 1996
Transcribed and Edited David Sielaff, June 2008
Read the accompanying Newsletter for June 2008
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No subject is more intriguing to human curiosity than that which embraces our understanding of the nature of God. This is particularly important in matters dealing with psychology and emotional issues. After all, we humans are governed by psychological and emotional characteristics, and it is only rational that we would extend our quest for a knowledge of God to involve these principles of life that all of us experience.
Strangely though, these are not the themes that give humans problems in comprehending the nature of God. For some reason it is often taken for granted that God must have psychological and emotional characteristics similar to those experienced by all of us humans. The reason we feel this way is because we assume that these characteristics involving moral, ethical, and social matters must be based on universal concepts that all intelligent beings in the universe experience.
Thus, when we mention the nine fruits of the spirit which the apostle Paul said must dominate the conduct of Christians, it is easy to equate them with principles that should be intimately associated with the nature of God. That is, we feel that way in most cases.
People tend to believe that God is basically good. That is what the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned by the apostle Paul are all about. These are emotional characteristics that should dominate the life of a Christian. Let us read what those nine fruits are, and we can easily see that they could be associated with the nature of God.
Here is what the apostle Paul said in Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love ...” Now that is the first one. Love is placed first simply because of its importance. We normally associate love and good and all of other synonyms associated with “love,” in some way with an attachment to God. So:
“But the fruit of the spirit is love [that is number one], joy [number two], peace, long-suffering [an old word for “patience”], gentleness, goodness, faith [“faith” actually means “belief,” belief in the good things of life], meekness, temperance ...”
Paul went on to say that against these nine points there is no law that has ever been made. We find then that these nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are easily associated with God in most consciousness that we have as humans. We can feel that there is a reason for looking upon them as part of the nature of God.
The works of the flesh the apostle Paul had already listed in Galatians 5:19–21. Those things have no connection with God, for example adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and the such like.
In most cases, even people who do not understand the Holy Scripture would not think that God would be associated in any way with many of those negative characteristics and actions. That is not necessarily the case in all the circumstances, because the ancient Greeks used to have the idea that the pagan gods (in the plural) were that way, because they assumed they were very similar to human beings. 1 We will see that in fact that is true, that God is very similar to human beings. Or to put it another way, that human beings are very close to being like God. The two really can be equated to one another and eventually they will be very closely identified indeed.
The very message of salvation, which we have here in the Scripture, given in the New Testament, involved mankind becoming like God. In fact, mankind is not just becoming “like” God, but will become members of the very family of the living God in heaven, and the fruit we normally associate with God: love, joy, peace, and all forms of goodness.
Now those are psychological points. They are emotional points. Many of us have little difficulty in finding some type of an attachment of these things with the living God in heaven. It may be nebulous to us in many ways, in just exactly how these things can be attributed to God, and how He can exercise them, because we have never seen God with our eyes, that is, you and I have not. 2 Some people in vision have claimed to have seen God, and in the Bible we see that certain people have indeed seen Him in vision.
Normally when visionaries see God, they see someone who looks like a human being, who sits on a throne, or stands above a throne, or has some kind of majesty associated with Him, but almost in every circumstance, we find what is called an anthropomorphic type of an image. “Anthropomorphic” is a fancy term which simply means that God appears like a human being. 3 In almost all of the visionary experiences of the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments, we find that certainly was the case.
You know it is possible for some of us to sit on the right hand of the Father in heaven, just as Jesus Christ is described in the Bible as sitting on the right hand of the Father in heaven at this present moment? The visions give an anthropomorphic type of a description of God. This is clearly understandable as far as the Scripture is concerned, but how many people are there in the world who really believe that God is in that fashion?
While we can understand and accept that these good principles mentioned in the fruits of the Spirit, can be associated with God, when it comes down to actually believing in the bodily composition of God — that is what it is — there is where many of us stumble, because we read in the Scripture that God is spirit.
God is spirit. In the King James Version, in John 4:24, it says that God is “a” spirit. It can be rendered that way, and that is absolutely true. But at the same time, God is spirit. And normally when you and I associate the word “spirit” with something, we think of a non-body type of experience, a relationship that is spiritual, emotional, psychological, but it is not in a sense, fleshly, or material, or something of that nature.
Yes, God is correctly defined as being “spirit.” But He also is described as having a body. How can we bring these two terms into compatibility? That is what we need to look at in the Scripture. By the way, it is quite easy to do so.
We are here on this earth, all of us humans, to experience life for the 70, 80, 90, or 100 years in which we live. It is a life of trial. It is not intended for us to experience complete happiness, and joy, and perfection in this life. If we did, we would never experience good or bad. We desire to have good, but not the bad. The universe is made up of a lot of space out there, with millions of galaxies scattered throughout this big, big universe.
In this universe we have God. The Bible tells us that Christ Jesus, under the auspices of God the Father, created the entirety of the universe, of which our world, this Earth, is just a minor speck, just a tiny part. But it is very big to us. This world is material and we are material. That is true. At the same time, the God whom we read about in the Bible is called the God of power and authority. As I said before, most of the visionary experiences that we see explained in the Bible about God or Christ, even in their glory, describe them in anthropomorphic terms. That is, they look like human beings, or better yet, we look like they do.
How can it be that a spiritual being such as God is described as having a bodily composition? If God the Father and Christ (in His glory at present) each indeed possess a bodily composition, what exactly is it that they possess? That is what we need to know. Once we begin to realize what the biblical teaching on these things happens to be, we will come to appreciate the salvation that we have in Christ, which was given to us, in actual fact, “before the foundation of this world,” according to Ephesians 1:4 and 2 Timothy 1:9 (“before the world began”).
It is through various stages that mankind collectively will be exalted into the position of being like God, in more than one way, in fact, to be like God precisely. That is what human salvation is all about. That is what our destiny actually is.
But God is described as being spirit. Look at the verse in the Gospel of John, again in the King James Version, and it could be this way rendered, perfectly, in the Greek: “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The article in front of the word “spirit,” where it says “God is a Spirit,” that is an indefinite article. In the King James Version, it is italicized. That means that it does not occur in the original Greek. It actually reads “God is spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
The first impression an individual would get from this — I am talking about an educated individual, an intelligent one who has considerable literary experience, experience with life, and a mature adult — you would tend to think this does not describe a bodily experience for God. And rightly so, in this one Scripture alone, because it says God is Spirit. And they, though, that worship Him — which includes all humans, and you might include the angels in there, but for this context here, let us just look at the human side of things, because that is what Christ was talking about there: “... and, they [that is humans] who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
It is rather interesting that all of a sudden we begin to get a little bit of understanding about the Spirit in association with the Father, if we slow down and look at what that Scripture says, and pay attention to it. Because it says here that we humans are very fleshly, are we not? Look at yourself in a mirror. You see the image of yourself. You are material. I am material. But we ourselves have a spirit associated with us. That is what it says in the Gospel of John. We also have the ability to express truth. We know in other areas we can express falsehoods, but we can also express truth. It says here “God is Spirit.” And humans who worship Him, “must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24).
So, humans then are given a spiritual essence, a spiritual existence that allows them to worship God “in spirit and in truth.” You and I are very material at the present time. However, we do have a mind which is associated with the Spirit because we have been given God’s Holy Spirit. When Christ was explaining to Nicodemus, one of the great rabbis of the Sanhedrin of the Jews back at that time, what the Spirit was all about, He said the Spirit is like the wind. The Spirit is like the “pneuma.” The “pneuma” is the Spirit. You can see the rustling of the leaves in the trees by the force of the wind. If the force of the wind is gentle, it is a very pleasant experience. If the wind, however, is of hurricane force, which is above 75 miles an hour, it is very ferocious, and rampaging. In a tornado, where you can find wind speeds up to almost 300 miles an hour, it is highly destructive in a very narrow area. We are all familiar with that concept.
So even the fact that the Spirit is connected to the wind or to the air, the air itself can be weighed here on this Earth. Move your hands quickly. You will feel the air going through them. The air above us is all on top of you. Most of it goes up about 50 miles or so. Above that the air gets very thin. This canopy of air around this earth is known as the atmosphere. Though wind is compared to the Spirit, it actually has weight. Wind (like Spirit) is actually quite substantial. If you are at sea level, the air exerts 14, almost 15 pounds per square inch of pressure upon the human body at sea level, at about the temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now all these things can be measured. When you come to the word “spirit,” Jesus Himself said the spirit is like the wind, and the wind is highly substantial. Remember, in John 4:24 it says “God is Spirit.” You would at first think this is intangible, but if you will recall we have already read what He said in John chapter 3, before He gets to this section. He is showing that the Spirit is very tangible indeed. However, it is in a different dimension than you and I are used to, because you cannot see the Spirit. You cannot see the air. You cannot see the movement of the wind, but you can see the result of the movement of the wind, that is, the rustling of the leaves, or the hurricane force winds carrying debris in the air, or, tornado even worse. You can see the result. But the air itself you cannot see. It is just in a different dimension.
We read in the Bible that no human can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). Now, God definitely exists. But when it comes to appraising Him, or, seeing Him in a way which we are used to, He lives in a different type of bodily dimension at the present time. (We will see that He does have a body.) His body is made up of Spirit. It is made up of spiritual elements. Those elements are as substantial and as material to another spirit being as you, a fleshly being, are tangible and material to another fleshly being.
God has the capability of actually transforming Himself from a spiritual essence into a material one, if He wishes to, and look just exactly like you and I do. He can take His spiritual body and turn it into a material body. He could do this in a miraculous way as far as we humans are concerned, but really it is only miraculous because you and I do not know how to do it. If you and I knew how to do it, it would not be miraculous at all, would it? But God knows how, Jesus Christ knows how, but they live in a different dimension than we do. That dimension is a spiritual one.
The spiritual dimension that they live in is very substantial to them. Every time that we read of God (beginning in the first chapters of Genesis all the way to the last chapter of Revelation), you find Him described in terms we humans can understand, and those terms are in the anthropomorphic sense and type of appearance. This means that God when He does make an appearance to human beings, He appears to us as a human. He appears as a male human, as a matter of fact, not as a female, but as a male human.
So we find that the word “spirit,” though God is a Spirit, even we have a portion of our existence in the spiritual realm as well, even though when you look in the mirror you see a very materialistic individual standing in front of you, a reflection of yourself:
“God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit [just like He is] and in truth.”
So you and God, myself and God, all humans and God, have some common characteristics that are associated with each of us. That is what we need to understand. We are very similar to one another in one way. However, God is Spirit. Does He have a body? We will see in a moment that He does, according to the Scripture.
Now, since God is a Spirit, what other beings in the universe are described as being spiritual entities? What other individuals have a spiritual existence like God, very similar to God, yet different from God in some ways, but at the same time they are described as being spirits?
Do you realize that all angels in the Bible are described as being spirits? Indeed they are. They are all spirits. They are spirits like God, who happens to be a spirit. Now do angels manifest themselves to human beings? Why, in the Old Testament, we find various examples of that actually taking place. The same thing in the New Testament. The apostle Paul said in the Book of Hebrews that people living in the 1st century had met angels before, unawares, not even realizing that they had met some of them, when they thought that they were talking to a natural human being, here on this Earth (Hebrews 13:2).
Angels have the ability, though they are spirits, to transform themselves if God so allows it into a materialistic type of a body which looks exactly like man does, like human beings.
Now the only angels that are described in the Bible having wings are those that are in allegorical context. That means the wings that are on the back of angels are there to show, in a symbolic allegorical sense, that they are capable of journeying through the sky like a bird, you see, without having any type of a vehicle, other than themselves, to do that. So in symbol, they are given wings, but in fact, every time they are described in a pragmatic sense, you will find that they are always described as looking like human beings, like men.
Let us see where they are described as spirits, just as God is, using the same words. Go and read Psalm 103. Psalms 103, 104, 105, and 106 — those four psalms all are linked together, though they are separate psalms, the subjects of these four psalms are all linked together. In fact, Psalm 103 gives an introduction to Psalms 104, 105, and 106. The introduction starts in heaven, describing God and some of His characteristics. Near the end of Psalm 103 begins a history of how God created the heavens and the earth and how the angels were there helping Him in the creation of this earth.
Then go right on to read Psalm 104. It is a separate psalm but it was sung in context just after 103, in the temple at Jerusalem. It carries on with the same story. Then it says about the angels themselves. Who are these angels? It says that they are like the winds. They are spirits and they have power and authority to do certain things. 4 We need to know about these angels. These angels are spiritual beings and they can transform themselves into material beings if God so allows them to do so. When we find them described in the Bible, having a relationship with man, on the same level as mankind, we find that they look like human beings.
We even find in one section of Scripture, in the 18th chapter of the Book of Genesis, when YHWH (the very name of God) Himself with two angels met Abraham. They looked like ordinary human beings. In fact, they talked to Abraham, went into his tent, sat down. Sarah was able to make dinner for all of them, and they all sat down and ate.
In Genesis chapter 19, we find that those two angels who were there with YHWH, talking to Abraham, went down finally to Sodom, of Sodom and Gomorrah. They met Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew, at the gate of the city of Sodom. Lot invited them into his house just like ordinary human beings. So much did they look like ordinary men, that the very wicked men of Sodom, who also saw these men, wanted to possess them in an illegal sexual way. That is how closely resembling human beings these angels actually appeared to be. 5
That was, however, a characteristic of angels understood by the people of the whole Sodom area, along with the people of Gomorrah and those of the other cities of the plain. The angels saw this wickedness of these men, which had been going on consistently for years, and they said that they were going to wipe these towns off the surface of the earth. You know the whole story, how Lot, his wife, and daughters finally left with the angels, and then the angels brought down fire out of heaven that destroyed the entire region of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the northern section of the Dead Sea.
And I assure you — I have been down there many, many times — that whole region today, though it was like the Garden of Eden before, now it is like the surface of the moon, for all practical purposes. Those angels along with YHWH Himself were serious.
When angels appear to mankind, though they are known as spirits, as winds as far as God is concerned, when they change themselves into an appearance that can be discerned by mankind, they look just like you and I do. Psalm 103 is that introductory psalm, and look at what it says here, near the end where the creation scene is given:
“YHWH has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all. Bless YHWH, you his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless you YHWH all you hosts [that is, the armies of heaven] and you ministers of his [he is talking about the angels] that do his pleasure. Bless YHWH, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless YHWH, O my soul.”
That is the end of Psalm 103. But go right on to Psalm 104 because the context is the same. He is giving a historical rendition here, leading up to the time of Abraham and beyond. It says:
“Bless YHWH, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with honor and majesty. Who covers yourself with light as with a garment ...”
That is how God appears, in resplendent light. YHWH clothes Himself “with light as with a garment” just like you would put on a garment, for example a coat. When it is cold outside you put a coat on. You cover yourself. That is how God covers Himself, with resplendent light that shines forth from His very being:
“who stretches out the heavens like a curtain: who lays the beams of his chambers in the waters: who makes the clouds his chariot: who walks upon the wings of the wind: Who makes his angels spirits; his ministers [that is the angels] a flaming fire...”
The angels can also appear like a flaming fire like a great light. They can be like the wind. They can journey on the winds. They are great and powerful creatures that God has made. God is spirit. The angels are spirits. But every time God is described, He is described as having a body. When angels are described in appearances to men, they are described as having bodies.
We have been reading here in Psalms 103 and 104 a description of the creation of God of the earth, and of the heavens, and how the angels helped God in this marvelous work that we see surrounding us. We are part of that creation by God.
These angels were called the “ministers of God.” In Psalm 104, He comes down to the place of calling them “spirits” and a “flaming fire.” Psalm 104:5 talks of YHWH: “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever [for the age].” It goes on to describe the creation of various things here on this earth. It goes to describe the flood of Noah, and then the raising up of Abraham. It goes right on through until the time of King David. These Psalms, 103 to 106, should be read together in a single context. They describe here a history of the world, from the creation all the way to the time of King David.
In the beginning of this creation narrative by King David, we find the angels are described as being spirits. But they are also ministers to do certain things here in this earth. They actually were helping God in the creation. Of course, the power of creation has to be attributed to God. We read in Colossians chapter 1 that it was actually Jesus Christ, working under the authority of God the Father, who created the heavens and the earth. But we are told here in Psalm 103 and 104 that angels were there too, assisting in many ways in the creation as directed by God and Christ. Going on in Psalm 104 you will see the various divisions that were created here on the earth. Furthermore, the angels were put, we find from later descriptions, in charge over various things on this earth. They were known as the principalities and powers, the spiritual powers, that God used to be able to control the entirety of this universe. 6
When these angels are described, and even when God is described, they are shown in an anthropomorphic sense. I use that word once more to show you what it means. It means “in the appearance of man.” Angels do not normally have wings. In fact, they have no wings at all. But in allegorical or symbolic references in Scripture we find that they are given wings simply to show that they can navigate through the air, through space, without any type of material conveyance helping them to get along in any way. 7
This is important for us to understand, because these angels of creation are very much like we are. Yet at the same time, we read in the Scripture that we are destined to become even higher in rank than these angels that are described here. Because these angels, though they are spirits, and God is a spirit, they are not on the same level with God the Father, and the family of Elohim.
You and I, however, are described as being on that very level, that very plane of God the Father and Christ Jesus. We are the sons and the daughters of God. We are the children of God. And angels are never described as children of God in the way that we are. 8
In fact, in the first two chapters of the Book of Hebrews the apostle Paul makes a definite statement, a definite teaching, that if you are considered a son, or a daughter, of God, that is a special classification like Jesus Christ has, that angels do not fit into that classification. While at present we are a little lower than the angels (compare Psalm 8:5 with Hebrews 2:7, 9), the angels are vastly inferior to what we will be as members of the family of God. 9
But still angels are called “spirits,” and they were present at the physical creation of God of the heavens and the earth. And they were helping God at that time, long before you and I ever came along. When these angels are described later, in the history of the Bible, they are described as being like human beings. I mentioned earlier about the description of angels that we find in the 18th chapter of Genesis.
There is a principle I have given in the past which is a very profound one. The principle is, the first time that you find an entity, or a subject, or a matter being discussed, the first time is usually where you will find the best description in the Scripture of that entity, or that personage.
We find angels are first mentioned accompanying YHWH Himself 10 in Genesis chapters 18 and 19:
“And YHWH appeared unto him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre [near Hebron in the Palestine area] and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said,
‘My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, pass not away, I pray you, from your servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.’”
That is exactly what happened. They not only looked like men, but we find that water was fetched for them, and their feet were washed — these three men. One of them was Yahweh, and the other two were the two angels that went down to Sodom and Gomorrah. He says here in verse 5:
“‘[And] I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort you your hearts; after that you shall pass on [you can go ahead if you want, after you had a good meal]: for therefore are you come to your servant [Abraham]’. And they said, ‘So do, as you have said.’”
Go ahead and do it. Now these three men here were actually Yahweh and two angels. They had their feet washed, Sarah cooked a meal for them, and they ate it.
After the discourse that went on in Genesis 18:16–33 about the destruction of the cities of the plain, here is what we find in chapter 19:
“And there came two angels [the same two angels that were with Yahweh, Abraham, and Sarah] ... and they came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, ‘Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house [he called these angels “lords”], and tarry all night, and wash your feet.’”
That was the custom in those days to wash the feet of guests, so angels can have their feet washed. It goes on to say in Genesis 19:3: “he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Can you imagine? Remember that angels are called “spirits” (Psalm 104:4). YHWH is called a “spirit” (John 4:24). But here they are, manifesting themselves to Abraham, to Lot, to the children of Lot, of Sodom. They all look like men to them. You talk about an anthropomorphic type of appearance, that is exactly what it is, is it not? Now you would wonder, what are they? Are they spiritual beings? Well, Abraham and Lot could touch them; they washed their feet. They could eat material food. This is not an allegory. This is not a vision of any kind. It is never described as being that way. It is a very practical thing.
So, when you read back here in the first chapter of Genesis, at the creation of Adam and Eve:
“And God [Elohim] 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them.”
In Genesis chapters 18 and 19 these three that appeared to Abraham, the Lord (YHWH) and the two angels, appeared as men. God also has an image of the female. The female is as much a part of God, but we do not read of them so much in the Scripture as we find the male side. In fact, here in the very beginning of Genesis, we find that the male and the female are both in the image of Elohim, the family of God: “male and female.”
That is why God appears like a man, or like a human being. Better yet, that is why human beings appear like God. But angels that helped God in the creation appear like men as well. There could very well be female angels. The ancients used to think that there were. You see, there is always the matter of a balance in nature of the sexes, male and female. You find it in nature everywhere. You find it in the higher animals. You find it in the lower animals. You find it in the vegetation that is around the earth.
The apostle Paul said if you want to know what God is like, just look at the material creation around us. That is Romans in chapter 1. Everywhere you look in nature, you will see the balances, negatives and positives. We are not talking about social matters here. We are talking about physical and spiritual forces that balance each other, working together in a most unique and harmonious way. If you want to know about God, Paul says, look at what God has created. God has created these sexual differences, shall we say, that come together in one to express what God is like, and what His family is like.
We human beings here are made in the very image of God. That is most important for us to understand. Yet God Himself (YHWH) at the present moment, though He looks like a human being, He still is a Spirit, and though angels, unless they manifest themselves in a material way, they are spirits, but they look like human beings. This means that spirit must have shape. Spirit must have form. Spirit must have substance of some kind. Though it is spiritual substance, there is the key that all of us need to realize.
You and I are destined in the resurrection from the dead, to be just like Christ Jesus is at the present time. Christ was our pioneer, who came on this earth to live some 30-odd years, die on a tree of crucifixion, and be resurrected from the dead. After He was resurrected from the dead, how did He appear to the women at the tomb, and to the apostles later on? He appeared as a human being. He appeared just like you and I do. Though He was differently shaped than He had been before, 11 still at the same time, He was just like a human being. 12 Every circumstance that we find in the Scripture here shows God the Father, and Christ Jesus, and the angels, and others, even in a spiritual existence, they still appear as human beings.
Let me give you an example of a council that took place in heaven. The incident is mentioned in First Kings chapter 22. This was at the time of Elijah, though Elijah is not mentioned on this occasion. He was in some other area of Israel at the time.
A prophet by the name of Micaiah is mentioned, and he was one prophet that King Ahab of Israel did not like. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was visiting with King Ahab of Israel. Now this was the 9th century BC, not long after the kingdom split in two after the death of Solomon.
Here is Jehoshaphat and Ahab speaking with one another, and Ahab said: “You know there is a town on the other side of the River Jordan that was formerly mine, but the Syrians have taken it over, and I want to get it back. It is named Ramothgilead.”
Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, because they were both brother Israelites, “Would you help me in securing this land, or this city?” And Jehoshaphat said, “Well, it seems like a noble enterprise, but do we have a prophet from God that will tell us what we should do?” And so, they said, “Well yes, we have around 450 of them up here, as a matter of fact.” And they asked the prophets and they said, “Go up and take Ramothgilead. You would do it in the name of Yahweh.”
So, with 450 of them saying that, you would imagine that it was okay to do so. But read the story in First Kings chapter 22. One prophet was not originally summoned at the council between Jehoshaphat and Ahab. That prophet was the name of Micaiah. Jehoshaphat said, “Are there any other prophets? I want every one of them.” And Ahab said, “Well, there is one that wasn’t called, but he is always against me.” “Well, what is his name?” “His name is Micaiah.” “Well, I want to see him, too.”
They sent for Micaiah, and they asked, “Shall we go up to Ramothgilead? Does the Lord want us to go up, or shall we not?” Do you know what Micaiah said? Exactly like the others: “Go on up. And everything will be just fine.”
This surprised Ahab, because almost invariably Micaiah in the past had said something bad against Ahab, but now he was saying what all the other prophets were saying. Ahab asked, “Well, what is going on here? There is something wrong somewhere.” Micaiah said, “Yes, now I want to tell you the rest of the story.” You can read it in verse 18. It says:
“And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, did I not tell you that he [Micaiah] would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?’ And he said, ‘Hear you therefore the word of YHWH [Micaiah is speaking]: I saw YHWH sitting on his throne [that is an anthropomorphic description, is it not?], and all the host of heaven [the army of heaven, including the angels] standing by him [YHWH] on his right hand and on his left.’”
1 Kings 22:18–19
Here they all were, looking like and doing things like human beings, YHWH and also the angels. Micaiah goes on relating events of the divine council:
“And YHWH said, ‘Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead?’ And one [of the angels] said on this manner, and another said on that manner.”
1 Kings 22:20
Now look at verse 21 closely: “And there came forth a spirit, and stood before YHWH, and said, I will persuade him.” Here is this angel, described as a spirit, but having bodily composition, image, and likeness, standing in front of YHWH, who is also spirit. They look just like human beings. Yet here they are described as being spirit. This does not mean something wispy. It does not mean something cloudy. It does not mean something of a nebulous nature. They had bodily characteristics, clearly and plainly, though they were made out of spiritual substance. This is the key. Spiritual substance.
So, this spirit stood before the Lord and said, “I will persuade him” (verse 22):
“And YHWH said unto him, ‘Wherewith [how will you do it?]’? And he said, ‘I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit [a lying angel] in the mouth of all his prophets [Ahab’s prophets].’ And he [YHWH] said, ‘You shall persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.’”
1 Kings 22:22
The spirit then went forth and put lies in the mouth of all the prophets down there. Even Micaiah himself was required by God to tell Ahab that, because that is what was ordered by God in this particular circumstance.
But you see, this was a council in heaven that took place. YHWH asked on one hand what was to be done. One spirit said, let us do this and another said let us do that, just like a human government council or a corporate board of directors that we would have on earth. It was finally decided to do it this way. You could have seen that with your eyes, just as Micaiah “saw” in vision (1 Kings 22:18–20). These angels were described as being spirits who had bodily composition.
God the Father has body composition of Spirit, just like Jesus Christ has a body composition at the present time. If you want to know how God the Father looks, Jesus said in the Gospel of John that the Father and I are one (John 10:30, 17:11, 21). Remember how many times He said that? In Hebrews, chapter 1, this is what we read, and it is important for us to see this:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son [that son is Jesus Christ] whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds [aions, the various ages].”
That is Jesus Christ. Now look at verse 3: “Who [Christ] being the brightness of his glory ...” Remember how God is described as having a garment of light around him? That is the glory.
“... and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power...
Jesus Christ has the express image of the Father. Do you know how Jesus Christ is shown to be at the present time by the apostle Paul? Look at 1 Timothy 2:4–6. It speaks here, using the pronoun to refer to God:
“Who [God] will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men [anthropon, plural], the man [anthropos, singular] Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 2:4–6
In the Greek, it is the anthropos Christ Jesus. Paul was describing Jesus as looking like a man, and being an anthropos some 30 years after His resurrection. And He is in the express image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). You and I are destined, in the future, to look just exactly — that is, with hands and feet and so forth, with a spiritual type of body — as they are at the present time.
Look at First John chapter 3. This is very important because John understood that it is difficult for us to appreciate, and to appraise, what a spiritual body would look like. But it looks like a human, or a man, or a woman, if that be the case:
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [in the Greek, teknon, children] of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.”
1 John 3:1
Look at verse 2: “Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God.” That means we are the children of God already. We are humans right now, of course, we have not been resurrected from the dead — yet. But we are already children of God.
“... and it does not yet appear what we shall be [We do not know what the spiritual body will be like exactly]; but we know that, when He [Christ] shall appear [at the Second Advent], we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
1 John 3:2
We will be changed into the same type of spiritual body that God now has, and that Christ now has. We will then be called “spirit,” but we will also be substantial, because God is substantial. He has dimensions. He has form. He has shape. 13
Though Christ’s body is made of resplendent light that shines forth from this spiritual existence that He has, you and I will be changed into that very type of existence. Look at First Corinthians chapter 15, speaking about the resurrection from the dead, Paul said:
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? You fool [Paul says], that which you sow is not quickened [that is, made alive], except it die.”
1 Corinthians 15:35
Then Paul tells about grains of wheat put into the ground, and when the wheat comes forth, it comes forth as a different type of a thing than the seed, yet it is exactly the same type of grain that went into the ground. He says:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It [the body] is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. [That is us, all of us, our bodies.] There is a natural body [that is us now], and there is a spiritual body [us in the future].”
1 Corinthians 15:42–44
It goes on to say that we will be changed into that spiritual body. Going on down to verse 50:
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood [as we are right now] cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [that means, die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, For this corruptible [this body] must put on incorruption, and this mortal [body] shall put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
1 Corinthians 15:50–54 (citing Isaiah 25:8)
That is First Corinthians, chapter 15. We have to be changed from this flesh and blood existence into a spiritual existence. We will be exactly as Jesus Christ was in His experience that He showed through His death and resurrection, and He is still to this very day called an anthropos — like a man. And He and the Father have both the same image, shape, form, substance. But it is spiritual substance. And the apostle Paul said in Philippians, chapter 3, a very important section here which also helps us to understand these matters: “For our conversation [our citizenship] is in heaven ...” (Philippians 3:20). That is where we will be one of these days. But it is a spiritual citizenship.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence [heaven] also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue [subject] all things unto himself.”
So you see, our destiny, our future, what we are to become, in salvation, is to become just exactly, in body form, as Jesus Christ is at the present time. How is Jesus Christ at this present moment? He is in the express image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). And the Father sits on a throne at times. Jesus Christ sits on the right hand of the Father, at times:
“And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
We are told in Ephesians 2:6, that you and I now, legally, are sitting on the right hand of the Father. If we are sitting on the right hand of the Father, it is in fact “at His right hand.” We look like He does; He looks like we do. The glorious body of Jesus Christ can “sit” on the right hand of the Father, and so can the Father sit on the left hand of Jesus Christ.
We, according to Colossians chapter 3, can sit down at the right hand of the Father just like Christ sits on the right hand of the Father.
“If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.”
Since Christ is the firstborn of the Father from the dead, and we are also “in Christ,” that makes us all first-born in one way of looking at it, and Hebrews chapter 12 says that is what we are. So, we are all children of God. 14
We are not children of horses, which always would be like other horses. We are not children of cows, which would be like other cows. We are not children of grasshoppers, which would always be like other grasshoppers. We are children of God, which means that we are like God! That is what our salvation is all about. That is what we shall be changed into, in the fullest sense, in the future. We are to be changed from this vile body which is flesh, and that flesh is corrupt, is it not? Daily you know it. Do you ever have any aches and pains? Of course you do. Do you have corruption at the present time? Yes, you do. Are you looking for incorruption? Are you looking for immortality? Then your bodies will have to be changed into the spiritual composition like the body that God the Father now has.
There are some people who would still say “Well, Ernest, I still find it difficult to believe that God looks like a human being.” But you know, every description of Him in the Bible shows that He does look like a human being. It is funny. I do not have any problems having Him be that way at all. In fact, when you want to pray to Him, as a Father, how can you pray to Him as a Father if you do not look upon Him as your actual Father? And Jesus Christ as your Elder Brother?
Really, let us get our senses straight. Our salvation is to be changed into the very spiritual substance that God the Father and Christ have now. They are both spiritual bodies. That is not what you are now, but in the future you will become like they are now (1 John 3:2). Yes, the bodily composition of God is spiritual. It is immortal. And it is also incorruptible. That is what you are destined to be given. That is what you are destined to achieve.
Ernest L. Martin, 1996
Edited by David Sielaff, June 2008
Another description of what Christ looks like at present (besides 1 Timothy 2:4–6) was shown in vision to the apostle John:
“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.”
The basic likeness is identifiably human, and is explicitly stated to be so by John: “like unto the Son of man,” 15 while many elements are more than human with the light and countenance shining as bright as the sun. His eyes were bright like flames. His skin where exposed was also shining.
This is what we shall be like when we put on our immortality like a cloak (1 Corinthians chapter 15) because we shall be then like He is now (1 John 3:2). When He was on earth Christ looked like His father (John 14:9). Christ now is in the express image of God the Father who is YHWH (Hebrews 1:3). Christ is also in the image and likness of a man. Indeed He is a man, an anthropos.
As the Father is now, Christ is now. As Christ is now, we shall become. The bodily composition of God is a reality. That reality shall be yours and it shall be mine. It is our future inheritance.
David Sielaff, June 2008
1 The Greeks are indeed the best example as Dr. Martin notes, but it was not only the Greeks who thought the gods had positive and negative human-like characteristics. All Gentile peoples thought that way. Even today most people who believe in multiple gods think that the lessor gods have mostly negative characteristics, but that the Creator God is distant, does not care, and is not like human beings. They are very wrong. God does care about humanity. He will show His love to all mankind when it pleases Him to do so (1 Timothy 2:3–6). He is like human beings because mankind is created in His image and likeness. DWS
2 In Christ’s day no man had seen the Father except the Son. This means face to face, not in vision. For confirmation of this read the text and context of John 1:18, 6:46; 1 Timothy 6:16; and 1 John 4:12. DWS
3 “Anthropomorphism,” a noun, is defined as the attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena (American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1994). In theology it denotes the attribution of human characteristics to God (or gods), when in fact the Bible holds that God’s characteristics are in Adam, the first man, by virtue of man being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Christ, the second Adam, was also in the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). DWS
4 YHWH, “Who makes his angels spirits” (Psalm 104:4). DWS
5 We need to keep in mind that the angels are at present just the same as they were in the days of Abraham. DWS
6 In creation the angels were somewhat like construction workers, Christ was the prime contractor, and God the Father. See Dr. Martin’s discussion of the “elemental spirits” who are angelic beings that operate and maintain much of the natural realm in his article “How God Uses Angels to Govern the Universe” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d010201.htm. DWS
7 Cherubim are spirit beings who have wings, as described in Exodus 25:20, Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10, and other passages. Creatures called Seraphs also are described as having wings (i.e., Isaiah 6:2) and seem to have a serpent-like appearance different from Cherubs. DWS
8 Angels are Elohim (Psalm 8:4–5 cited in Hebrews 2:9), but they are not Sons of God (Hebrews 1:5). Angels are created as ministering servants (Psalm 104:4), serving YHWH and Christ but you, me, and all human beings are the objects of their service. We are not to seek or encourage contact with our (or other people’s) angelic servants. We have neither the authority or power to do so at this time. To do so in our present physical situation, despite our possession of God’s Holy Spirit, is to disobey God and may lead to idolatry.
Even angels can act foolishly and with folly. God does not trust them fully (Job 4:18)! Just because a spirit being can be invisible and walk through walls (generally considered as god-like capabilities), and just because a being knows things that are secrets to you, or even things you do not know at present, this does not mean you should desire or initiate any contact with any spiritual beings other than God the Father and Christ. DWS
9 See Dr. Martin’s “Chapter 28, Who Are the Sons of God” from his book Essentials of New Testament Doctrine at http://www.askelm.com/essentials/ess037.htm. See my article “Elohim and the Son of God, Part 1” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d071001.htm. DWS
10 The first occurrence of the term “angel” is in Genesis 16:7–16 where the Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar. Hagar was Sarah’s slave girl, Abraham’s concubine, and Ishmael’s mother. The Angel of the Lord is a unique angel. DWS
11 Remember the marks of Jesus’ scourging were gone, but the prints of the nails remained in His hands and feet when He appeared to the disciples (John 20:24–29). DWS
12 When the apostle Paul saw Jesus in vision on the road to Damascus, Jesus appearing in a great light. Other times Jesus was seen by him, as Paul relates in 1 Corinthians 9:1, were: Acts 9:3, 17, 18:9, 22:14, 18, 23:11; and 1 Corinthians 15:8. DWS
13 We shall be spirit, substantial, yet still human (anthropos) as Christ is at this moment (1 Timothy 2:6). DWS
14 While we may not desire chastening and scourging from God, we should steel ourselves to accept it. If we refuse to receive it, Paul says, perhaps we are not His sons after all:
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son [without exception!] whom he receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.”
Hebrews 12:5–8 DWS
15 This description of Revelation is similar to the vision Daniel saw in Daniel 7:1–2, 7. He termed the being “the Ancient of Days” who was the Most High (verse 7:22), and a being called the Son of man (Daniel 7:13–14). DWS
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