“God is not a man.” Finish it. “What do you mean?”

 

S. Lewis Johnson, in his lecture XII Bunyan conference (God’s love towards Israel), gives the following advice:

“In reading the Bible pay attention to the connectives, if you want to study the Bible and become expert in the knowledge of the Scriptures one of the things you have to pay attention to is the “for’s” the “therefore’s” the “because’s” on this account various other connectives that connect the sentences of the word of God together that give you the kind of clues that enable you to put one statement with another in proper understanding.”

Recently I heard once again in a discussion on Islam the bit from Numbers 23:19, a favourite of Unitarians (Jews, Moslems and Jehovah’s Witnesses), “God is not a man…” This bit is part of the complete verse, which they either ignore or are ignorant of:

God is not a man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

The conjunction (connecting word) that connects 1. “God is not man,” to 2. “he should lie” in such away that all God is saying is that whereas man is (by nature) a liar, God is not. (The same grammatical point applies to “or a son of man…”). Numbers 23;19 has nothing to do with the nature of God’s being, namely, whether he has a divine or a human nature, or both. Therefore, it’s illegitimate to chop the verse into two chunks and present them as two separate arguments. It’s a bit like slicing up Raphael the Ninja Turtle  and ending up with Picasso. Later, of course, the New Testament does describe Jesus as fully God and fully man. But this is a different context.

In the endeavour to prove that Jesus cannot be God, unitarians milk the teats off the text.

Related

Raphael and Picasso pay attention; God is not a man that he should lie..

Milking the teats off the text: the Rabbinical interpretation of Numbers 23:19.

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