Immanuel Chapter 5
A Divine Nature
In heaven, the Son of God had a glorious divine form, but as man’s Representative, He could not retain this heavenly glory, for “humanity could not have endured the sight. The contrast would have been too painful, the glory too overwhelming.” 1
Michael was “in the form of God”. 2 He was “majestic and lovely.… taller than any of the angels.” 3
But when Christ came to this earth, He took the form of a human being, “and was found in fashion as a man”. 4 He gave up His glorious divine form to take a human form, not just an outer covering, but all the faculties that make up a human being.
Christ “was God while upon earth, but He divested Himself of the form of God, and in its stead took the form of a man. He walked the earth as a man.” 5
His “divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man.” 6
Christ’s glory is twofold – the outward manifestation of His presence, and His inward character.
When Moses asked to see Christ’s glory at Sinai, he was told, “Thou canst not see My face and live” – speaking of the glory of His presence, and “I will make all My goodness pass before thee” – speaking of His glorious character. 7
When Christ came in human form, the outward manifestation of His glory was “for a while relinquished”, but the inward glory of character remained. 8
When He returns the second time, He will come with “His own glory and with the glory of the Father…. The unsullied light will shine from His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all who have served Him. While the wicked will flee from His presence, Christ’s followers will rejoice.” 9 Those who have refused redemption will be destroyed “by the brightness of His coming.” 10
Jesus prayed, “And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” 11
But glory can also refer to the position Christ had in heaven. He “laid aside His heavenly honor and glory. He laid off His glorious diadem and royal robe, and left the royal courts, in order that He might come to earth to save fallen man.” 12.
The Saviour “laid aside His royal robe, His kingly crown, His high command, and clothed His divinity with humanity that He might meet man where he was…” 13
The Son of God left the security and peace of His heavenly home, and for our sake, came forth, “a suffering, tempted man… in solitude, to sow in tears, to water with His blood the seed of life for a lost world.” 14
He “emptied Himself of His high prerogatives, left His mansions of glory, His throne and high command, and became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich.” 15
What riches through His poverty!
“God permitted His beloved Son, full of grace and truth, to come from a world of indescribable glory, to a world marred and blighted with sin, darkened with the shadow of death and the curse. He permitted Him to leave the bosom of His love, the adoration of the angels, to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred and death…” 16
Christ could have remained by the Father’s side. He could “have retained the glory of heaven, and the homage of the angels. But He chose to give back the scepter into the Father’s hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring light to the benighted, and life to the perishing…” 17
Our dear Saviour “emptied Himself of His honored position in the heavenly courts”. 18
He humbled Himself, not only to become a part of His creation, but to be “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” 19
Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn ‘And Can It Be?’ the following words, “He left His Father’s throne above, So free, so infinite His grace; Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race; ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free; For, O my God, it found out me.” 20
Some take these beautiful words to mean that Christ retained only His divine love, and nothing else. Should we understand it this way? A statement by the prophet can be seen similarly. The Son of God “laid aside His divinity, and came to earth in the garb of humanity.” 21
Did Christ lay aside His divinity? This single quotation must be harmonised with many other statements, even from the same periodical. “Christ… had laid aside His glory, stepped down from His throne, clothed His divinity with humanity.” 22
No, Christ remained divine, but He “veiled the demonstrations of deity”. 23 He “emptied Himself, and in all that He did self did not appear. He subordinated all things to the will of His Father.” 24
Possessing an “absolute right to all things”, Christ was willing to give Himself “to a life of poverty that man might be rich in heavenly treasure.” 25
Christ “had not exchanged His divinity for humanity, but had clothed His divinity in humanity…” 26 “He did not leave His divinity; He clothed His divinity with humanity.” 27
Heaven’s divinity was “enshrined in humanity.” 28
The Saviour always “had a full consciousness of His divinity”, though He walked among men as a man. 29
When men and women saw the Saviour going about His daily toil, they saw a carpenter, a teacher, “little taller than the common size of men”. 30 He had “no form nor comeliness… no beauty…” of attraction, but was “God in human flesh”. 31
“In the eyes of the world He possessed no beauty that they should desire Him; yet He was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth. His glory was veiled, His greatness and majesty were hidden, that He might draw near to sorrowful, tempted men.” 32
“Although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became a man. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty.” 33
The word Godhead means ‘divinity’, something that belongs only to Infinity – to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
There are three texts in the King James Bible that use the word ‘Godhead’, with three different Greek words. They are Acts 17:29, with the word ‘theios’, meaning ‘that which is divine’; Romans 1:20, with the word theiotes’, meaning ‘divinity’; and Colossians 2:8.9, using the word ‘theotes’, meaning ‘deity’. These words all mean ‘godlike, divine, divinity, a deity, esp the Supreme Divinity’. The word ‘theios’ has been translated ‘divine’ in 2 Peter 1:3.4. 34
Colossians says, “In Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (or divinity, that which belongs to Infinity) bodily.” 35 Thus we can see that Christ did not depart with His divinity when He took humanity.
As the Son of the living God, Christ was born with the divine nature of His Father. He was “God essentially, and in the highest sense.” 36
At times, Christ’s “divinity flashed through humanity, and He stood forth as the Son of God, His veil of flesh too transparent to hide His majesty.” 37
“He hid within Himself those all-powerful attributes which belonged to Him as one equal with God. At times His divine character flashed forth with such wonderful power that all who were capable of discerning spiritual things pronounced Him the Son of God.” 38
Christ could only be called ‘God’ if He possessed the powers of God. Thus our Saviour “is a perfect representative of God on the one hand, and a perfect representation of humanity on the other.” 39
It is vital we understand that Jesus, in His Incarnation, was God in human flesh, for the “doctrine that denies the absolute Godhead (divinity) of Jesus Christ, denies also the Godhead (divinity) of the Father, for no man knoweth the Son, but the Father.” 40
Those who do this, “do not realize the sacredness of the word of the infinite God.” 41
The Incarnation is the mystery of God in the flesh, God in Christ, divinity in humanity. 42
1 Signs of the Times 02.15.1899.
2 Philippians 2:6.
3 2 Spirit of prophecy p39.
4 Philippians 2:8.
5 5 Bible Commentary p1126.
6 Ibid p1129.
7 Exodus 33:18-23. 34:5-8.
8 5 Bible Commentary p1126. This statement and others appear to say that Christ relinquished His divine form “for awhile”, however, we know He took human nature for eternity. See Desire of Ages p25. It was the glory that accompanied the divine form that was relinquished temporarily. “” God’s Amazing Grace p361. Upward Look p153. Review & Herald. 04.15.1875.
9 Christ’s Object Lessons p420.
10 2 Thessalonians 2:8. When He ascended to heaven, He revealed all the glory that human eyes could bear.
11 John 17:5.
12 Review and Herald. 11.26.1895.
13 1 Selected Messages p243.
14 Christ’s Object Lessons p36.
15 Signs of the Times. 04.22.1897.
16 Steps to Christ. p13.
17 The Desire of Ages p22.23. Christ gave back the sceptre of rulership, showing that it had been conferred upon Him.
18 Signs of the Times. 05.10.1899.
19 Philippians 2:8.
20 New Advent Hymnal p198.
21 Bible Echo. 10.12.1896.
22 Ibid. 02.01.1893. 09.03.1900.
23 5 Bible Commentary p1126.
24 Messages to Young People p162.
25 Review & Herald. 05.15.1900.
26 Review & Herald. 10.29.1895.
27 Sermons and Talks. Vol. 2 p126.
28 1 Selected Messages p250.
29 The Desire of Ages p664.
30 2 Spirit of Prophecy p39.
31 Isaiah 53:2. The Desire of Ages p664.
32 The Desire of Ages p23.
33 5 Bible Commentary p1129.
34 Two are from the route word ‘theos’, meaning ‘God’; obviously the words are all related. One can refer to a high magistrate, but the context will show this clearly.
35 Colossians 2:9. Read also Acts 17:22-30 and Romans 1:220.127.116.11. These texts are comparing divinity with the works of humanity.
36. Review and Herald. 04.05.1906.
37. Review & Herald. 03.26.1901.
38. 3 Spirit of Prophecy p259.
39. Signs of the Times. 11.24.1898.
40. Ibid. 06.27.1895.
41. The Youth Instructor. 02.11.1897.
42. Review and Herald. 11.05.1908.