God having a Son might seem a strange concept. But what exactly do we mean by God having a son? In the Tanakh (Old Testament), there are references to sons in various contexts including some of Israel’s kings such as the context of Messianic prophecy (e. g. Solomon- 2 Samuel 7:12-17 ), angels (the sons of God having relations with the daughters of men Genesis 6:1-2) and Moses referring to Israel as God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22-23). In the Brit Hadasha (New Testament), Adam is known as the son of God, since he was created by God and didn’t have biological parents (Luke 3:38). Also, those who received Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, He gave the right to be called the sons of God, to those who believe in His name ( John 1:12).
Having considered merely a few references concerning ‘son/s of God’ in the above paragraph, the imperative question to respond to is, does God have a unique, divine, co-equal and begotten Son? As we look at several vital related scriptures, this will enable us to build a picture of what is written concerning God’s Son by comparing those verses in context and harmonising them with each other.
Psalm 2 speaks of the Messiah’s triumph and kingdom.
The kings of the earth would attempt to stand against the Lord and His anointed, though “I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You (v7).” and “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little, blessed are all those who put their trust in Him (v12).”
Proverbs 30:4 asks what is the name of God’s Son?
A series of rhetorical questions is asked in this verse. Who could be the answer to all those questions and what is His Son’s name if you know? “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name and what is His Son’s name if you know?”
Rashi thought the answer to ‘ascended to heaven’ and ‘bound the waters’ referred to Moses. But in response to the last and most vital question, Rashi responded “if you know who he is. Now how did you not fear to transgress His words?”.[i] Rashi doesn’t answer the last question directly. But surely that name, the name of God’s Son must be the name of Messiah.
Isaiah 9:6-7/ 9:5:6 tells us more concerning this Son.
“For unto us a Son is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
What would a midrash on the “Wonderful Counsellor” reveal? Concerning the identity of the One who is “wonderful” Manoah asked the Angel of the Lord what His name was and was afraid that He might die since he had seen God (Judges 13:17, 22). Jacob had a similar experience and for that very reason called the place Peniel (Face of God), though his mysterious guest didn’t answer his question either, but responded to Jacob’s question with a question of His own, “Why is it that you ask of My name (Genesis 32:22-32)?”When Gideon was afraid that he would die having seen the Angel of the Lord, notice who responds and what He said, “Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die (Judges 6:22).” Therefore, could it be that those references referred to by some as Metratron, actually refer to Messiah and God’s Son?
Both Rashi and Ibn Ezra thought this passage refers to Hezekiah ’.[ii] Whilst we should read Isaiah 7:1-9:6 as a unit and recognise the important historical context of Isaiah’s words to King Ahaz with reference to Syria, Judah, Israel and Assyria and Isaiah’s sons used as a sign, we have to ask whether the whole of Isaiah 9:6-7 can be accurately ascribed to Hezekiah? In the whole unit passage, we also have the virgin birth prophecy, “Therefore the Lord God Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive a bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).”The sign of Isaiah 7:13 is to the house of David and it is clear that it is linked with Isaiah 9:7 concerning the throne of David concerning not a temporary reign but an everlasting kingdom.
Messianic scholar Michael Brown adds, ‘There were a number of Davidic kings in our history, some of whom were great, like David, Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah, and each of whom have been called “God’s son”. But none of them sat down at God’s right hand (Psalm 110), none of them were (or are) worshipped and adored by people of every nation and tongue (Daniel 7), and only Yeshua, who called Himself both “Son of man” and “Son of God, ”will return in the clouds of heaven (again, Daniel 7). He fulfils that which was prophetically spoken of the Davidic king, the anointed (mashiach) of the Lord, in the Prophets and Psalms.[iii]
Messiah is to have an everlasting kingdom.
Daniel had a vision of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9-14. This passage of Scripture mentions the Ancient of days as seated on thrones (Daniel 7:9), like the Son of Man, (another Messianic title) and given dominion and glory as all people’s and nations should serve Him (Daniel 7:13-14). Rashi identified the one like a man in Daniel 7:13 as King Messiah.[iv] Micah 5:2 or Micah 5:1 (depending on version), speaks of the ruler of Israel coming from Bethlehem Ephrathah whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. Rashi also saw that reference as speaking of Messiah and links that passage with Psalm 118:22, the cornerstone whom the builders rejected.[v]
Two other Psalms speak of Messiah’s reign and rule. Psalm 45:-6-7 reads, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your Kingdom. You loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above your companions. Also, Psalm 110:1-2 reads, “The LORD said to My Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!’
There must be blood atonement
Leviticus 17:11 explains the absolute necessity of blood atonement. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Crucially, Daniel 9:24-27 tells us that before the temple would be destroyed, Messiah would be cut off (killed). Since the temple was destroyed in AD70 how can atonement be made without any sacrifices made?
Who is God’s unique Son?
So far, we have established from Scripture that God has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Prov. 30:4; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7) and He would establish the throne of David and bring everlasting peace. Messiah had to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). The Son in preincarnate form appeared to Jacob, Samson’s parents and Manoah (Genesis 32:22-32; Judges 13:17, 22; 6:22). It must have been the Son since God said to Moses when He hid him in the cleft of the rock, no one shall see my face and live (Exodus 33:20). The reign of Messiah is to be everlasting and He is from ancient times from everlasting (Daniel 7:9, 13; Micah 5:2/1; Psalm 45:6-7; Psalm 110:1-2). Finally we know the essential requirement of blood atonement from Leviticus 17:11 and that Messiah had to be cut of before the temple was destroyed in AD70 (Daniel 9:24-27).
Who is the Person who fulfils all the above requirements of Messiah, God’s unique Son?
The Old is in the new revealed, the New is in the Old concealed and the short answer is Yeshua. Yeshua made blood atonement for sins through His sacrifice before the temple was destroyed in AD70 (Hebrews 9:28). Yeshua was born of a virgin and they would call His name Immanuel (God with us) (Matthew 1:23). Yeshua is the cornerstone whom the builders rejected (Ephesians 2:20). There are no appearances of an Angel of the Lord in the Brit Hadasha where the recipient sees God and is amazed, they have seen God and survived, because the Angel of the Lord in the Tanakh is Yeshua Messiah. Instead Yeshua, (Jesus) is transfigured in front of Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:1-13). Yeshua’s reign is everlasting and God has given Him a name that is above every name and every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus the Messiah is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
[iii] Michael Brown Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Volume Two (Baker Books; Grand Rapids, 2000), p42