When early Christians included Jesus himself, a human being, humiliated and exalted, in the identity of God; when they told the story of Jesus, whether in summary form in Philippians 2:6-11 or in extended detail in the Fourth Gospel, as the story of God’s own human obedience, humility, degradation and death, were they not saying something radically new about the identity of God? If so we must press the question of its consistency with the known identity of the God of Israel. An important point to make in this connection is that the identity of the God of Israel does not exclude the unexpected and surprising. Quite the contrary, this is God’s freedom as God requires his freedom from all human expectations, even those based on his revealed identity. He may act in new and surprising ways, in which he proves to be the same God, consistent with his known identity, but in unexpected ways. He is both free and faithful. He is not capricious, but nor is he predictable. He may be trusted to be consistent with himself, but he may surprise in the ways he proves consistent with himself. The consistency can only be appreciated with hindsight.
Nehemiah 9:6 (ESV)
“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
For this understanding of the unique divine identity, the unique sovereignty of God was not a mere ‘function’ which God could delegate to someone else. It was one of the key identifying characteristics of the unique divine identity, which distinguished the one God from all other reality. The unique divine sovereignty is a matter of who God is. Jesus’ participation in the unique divine sovereignty is, therefore, also not just a matter of what Jesus does, but of who Jesus is in relation to God. Though not primarily a matter of divine nature or being, it emphatically is a matter of divine identity. It includes Jesus in the identity of the one God. When extended to include Jesus in the creative activity of God, and therefore also in the eternal transcendence of God, it becomes unequivocally a matter of regarding Jesus as intrinsic to the unique identity of God.
Jesus and the God of Israel
by: Richard Bauckham