The Plural God Arises

God arises. His enemies scatter, and those who hate Him flee from His presence.
-Psalm 68:1

Our only hope is God. Our only chance as a people is with God.  Only from God can we have the change, the relief, the liberty and the justice we must have to survive as a people.  God alone is the remedy for our ingrained insubordinate blindness, in which we do not see God nor each other.

God is three persons and three persons are God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God is infinitely mysterious, but also knowable.  God may manifest or show forth is different ways, forms or in one of the three persons.

When we say "God", this is who we are referring to, God of three in one, infinitely mysterious and powerful, yet knowable.  God is extraordinary.  To this God we call out to arise.

"In the beginning, God created", is the first verse in the Bible, and uses the same Hebrew word for God, Elohim, that Psalm 68 uses.  Elohim, is used for God over 2,300 times in the OT, and it means strength, power or divine majesty.  But what is really interesting about the word elohim, is that it is plural.

Here is how some of the popular translations have this verse:
  • God (Elohim) arises. (HCSB, ISV)  
  • May God (Elohim) arise. (NIV)  
  • Let God (Elohim) arise. (KJV, NKJV, AMP, NASB)  
  • God (Elohim) shall arise. (ESV)  
This is a prophecy and a prayer.

The first time God is mentioned in the Bible, is in the first verse of the Bible:  "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth".  God is the center of the story of scripture and God being born into the world as a man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the climax of the whole story.

"In the beginning, God created", and "God arises", both refer to all of God, what we call "God in three persons", the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God is God the Spirit, God the Son and God the Father.

The first time that we are told in English that God, in Genesis 1, is plural, is in Genesis 1:26, where it says:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth."
The word 'God' has been plural all along, but we first realize it, here through our English translations, when we read God referred to as "Us" .

A second note is that 'man' here refers to humans, which is why the CEB translation has Gen. 1:26 as, "Let us make humanity".

A third note that also confirms that 'man' means 'humanity', is that the translation has "they", for the plural of humans, male and female: "They will rule".  We have 'God', plural for the Trinity; and 'man', plural for humankind.  The doctrine of the Trinity, that most of us take for granted was always a great mystery through Bible times, and was not hammered out until after the first century.

A fourth note is that when we read the next verse in Genesis, we have these words; that might be confusing, about God:
So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.
"God" is the plural elohim, as before, and the "Him" and the "He" are not in the Hebrew, but are inserted by the translators.  Again, the CEB has it different:
God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.
As a side note, I love the CEB.  I like to read as many translations as possible and I like most of them and love many of them, but I have to choose one to quote here, which is the HCSB.  One of the most controversial or off-putting things about the CEB, is that it has the phrase about Jesus, that usually says, "the Son of man", instead translated as, "the Human One".  I will place links below about this, that you may find interesting.

We know that God is not a "he" or a "she", but that humanity is created in God's image.  And yes, God is Father, but God also has every aspect of motherhood in God.  It is also interesting to notice that when Jesus is questioned about relations between husbands and wives, he refers his questioners back to these verses, which mention the plurality of men and women in the world and Jesus does not say "He" for God, but just "God" or "The Creator"; and again, the translators insert "he" in many translations, including the HCSB and the ESV.  But the NIV, ISV, NLT and many others, do not have Jesus saying "he" to refer to The Creator.

Matthew 19:4:

"Haven't you read," He replied, "that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female," (HCSB)
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, (ESV)
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' (NIV)
"Haven't you read the Scriptures?" Jesus replied. "They record that from the beginning 'God made them male and female.' (NLT)
He answered them, "Haven't you read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female' (ISV)

God, who is plural, made them (plural) male and female. And, "God (plural) arises" (Psalm 68:1).

God has person-hood in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; but is plural or in a plurality.  Humanity is in two persons, male and female, but is plural or in a plurality.  And marriage is between a man and a woman, two persons, but they are coupled in oneness, unified in plurality.

Leadership in the church is also always plural or a plurality.

What does this all have to do with "God arises"?  We are very individualistic, so we think of ourselves as individuals and we think of God as an individual.  But God is actually three persons, three in one.

Jesus or the Lord Jesus Christ is a singular person as is the Spirit and the Father.  But God is all three.  God (all three in one) is arising, is going to arise.  And each person of God is wider and deeper than we can fathom and is filled with mystery, because God is an extraordinary person.

God is not a singular, simple force or person; but a plural, magnificent, majestic, dynamic, glorious person of three in one.  That is the God that arises, is arising and shall arise.  God the Father is papa, but papa may come in a way you don't expect or recognize.

Remember the story of the guys who met Christ on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), but did not recognize him or realize who he was?  In fact, the four Gospels are filled with stories of people, the majority perhaps, who did not recognize who Jesus was.

That God, who we do not know or recognize, is arising.

In Exodus 3, when God appears to Moses, in the burning bush, this is quite unusual, yet it is God and the same word, elohim, is used for God, that is used in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God", Genesis 1:27, "God created man", and Psalm 68:1, "God arises".

God is plural and comes in a variety of ways.  This is God who is arising.  Plural and extraordinary.

Have you read "The Shack"?  The Shack movie's preview just came out last week, and here it is:

Foot Notes

Joel Green: The "Human One" explained, vimeo video.
Tony Rau: "Son of Man" or "Human One"?