A number of metaphors are used to depict the solid rock upon which Christ’s church is built – the foundation, the platform, the pillar supporting the platform. All speak the same truth.
Rock itself is a metaphor. Israel "drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4. We understand this. Christ is not a rock, but its solidity represents His enduring character.
The Holy Spirit is spoken of as 'wind, leaven and oil', but these are not the Spirit; they are metaphors. The Spirit is not the wind, but its effects can be seen. In the same way, leaven and oil signify certain aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Metaphors are figures of speech that are not literally applicable, but give a very real message about the reality of which they speak.
Some believe Ellen White’s references to Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ prior to the incarnation are all in hindsight, and that the name ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ are used as metaphors.
Is this so?
One text the prophet quotes is Proverbs 8. It certainly does speak of wisdom, as do a number of other chapters prior to it, but in chapter 8 there is a change. Let us look at it.
"Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths....O ye simple, understand wisdom: and ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things... Fro my mouth shall speak truth... All the words of my mouth are in righteousness... They are all plain to him that understandeth.. receive my instruction, and not silver... For wisdom is better than rubies... I wisdom dwell with prudence... The fear of the Lord is to hate evil...
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me... My fruit is better than gold... I lead in the way of righteousness, in the mist of the paths of judgment.... The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth....
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth... When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandments....Then was I by him, as one brought up with him: and I was his delight, rejoicing always before him...." Proverbs 1-30.
Most certainly much of it relates to wisdom, but I have never heard anyone having a problem with identifying the words, "Those that seek me early shall find me". Of course it can mean wisdom, but everyone who speaks of this verse says it is Jesus. But isn't it true, to have Jesus is to have wisdom?
The Bible says in Jesus, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3.
When the passage begins to speak of the Lord possessing "me" and the "I was set up" before the mountains were settled, it become rather strange to continue the metaphor of wisdom.
If we analyse the wording of the Hebrew, we find that "set up" is the word nasak which means 'anointed'. The verb is 'to be poured out', as when a person is anointed with oil that is poured over him. This the same word in Psalm 2:6 and 2 Chronicles 28:15, translated anointed. However, its meaning is more 'one appointed to his office', rather the act of being 'anointed'.
We must ask ourselves --- Was wisdom anointed for a holy office? Was it "brought forth" when there were no depths? And "before the mountains were settled"?
Some brethren think the whole chapter is about wisdom, however a careful reading shows that wisdom changes to God’s Son as from verse 23. The prophet makes this clear.
“The Son of God declares concerning Himself…The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old…When He appointed the foundations of the earth: I was by him, as one brought up with him: I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” Patriarchs and Prophets p34.
Sister White repeats this thought a number of times, making it clear that she understood Proverbs 8 was not simply speaking of wisdom.
A Jewish man was reading Proverbs 8 and after reading from verse 23 to 30, he suddenly said, 'Then God has a Son.' He gave his heart to Yeshua, accepting him as the Messiah.
When Lucifer learned that the Father and His Son would create man upon the earth, envy filled his heart. He had not been consulted, and pride and jealousy took over. This highly honoured angel began to covet the position of the Son. Patriarchs and Prophets p15.18.
“To dispute the supremacy of the Son of God, thus impeaching the wisdom and love of the Creator, had become the purpose of this prince of angels. To this object he was about to bend his energies of that master mind, which, next to Christ’s, was first among the hosts of God.” Ibid p35. (DA 129)
It had become necessary for God to make His Son’s position, as the Commander of heaven, absolutely clear to the angels.
“Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. The Son of God had wrought the Father's will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due.” Patriarchs and Prophets p36.
Think about it.
If the words 'the Son' are simply a metaphor, Lucifer’s jealousy of Him and His position must also be a metaphor. This would make the council called by the Father to make clear His Son’s authority also metaphoric.
The whole chapter becomes meaningless.
Dare we do this?
Finally, Lucifer is cast from heaven.
“The Son of God, the Prince of heaven, and His loyal angels engaged in conflict with the archrebel and those who united with him.” Lift Him Up p19.
The prophet tells us that the death of Christ would “justify God and His Son in their dealing with the rebellion of Satan.”Patriarchs and Prophets p69.
Again, if the original controversy in heaven was not between a begotten Son and a created Son, then there is nothing to be justified for a 'Son' or as 'Father', as these are simply metaphoric terms, and there really is no Father and Son.
In the Garden of Eden, it was “the Son of God who gave our first parents the promise of redemption. It was He who revealed Himself to the patriarchs” – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. Ibid p366.
“These holy men of old held communion with the Saviour who was to come to our world in human flesh; and some of them talked with Christ and heavenly angels face to face.” Ibid p366.
When Abraham met three heavenly beings at his tent, after the two angels departed for Sodom, he was left “alone with Him whom he now knew to be the Son of God.” Ibid p139.
The great test of faith for Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah was not only a lesson for them regarding the plan of salvation, but the angels also began to understand.
“It had been difficult even for the angels to grasp the mystery of redemption – to comprehend that the Commander of heaven, the Son of God, must die for guilty man. When the command was given to Abraham to offer up his son, the interest of all heavenly beings was enlisted.
With intense earnestness they watched each step in the fulfillment of this command… and when the father’s hand was stayed as he was about to slay his son, and the ram which God had provided was offered in the place of Isaac – then light was shed upon the mystery of redemption, and even the angels understood more clearly the wonderful provision that God had made for man’s salvation.” Ibid p155.
Consider the analogy – Isaac was Abraham’s real son. Was God’s Son a metaphor?
On Israel's journey from Egypt, it was “the Son of God, enshrined in the cloudy pillar (who) led the way” to the promised land. Ibid p437. Was it? Or is this a metaphor too?
When Moses stood high on the hill before the people he was told, “Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock…” Exodus 17:6.
The prophet said, “Moses smote the rock, but it was the Son of God who, veiled in the cloudy pillar, stood beside Moses, and caused the life-giving water to flow.” Patriarchs & Prophets p298. Again, it this reality or not?
When Nebuchadnezzar threw the three Hebrew worthies into the fiery furnace, they walked with a divine Being.
Was it the Son of God? Or are these words metaphoric?
Sister White asked, “How did that heathen king know what the Son of God was like? The Hebrew captives… had told of Christ, the Redeemer to come; and in the form of the fourth in the midst of the fire the king recognized the Son of God.” Prophets and Kings p509.
Over and over the term ‘Son of God’ is used by the prophet, not as a metaphor, but as reality.
Metaphors are valuable tools of language, but used incorrectly they teach a false message.
Believe the truth.
“God sent His Son from the heavenly courts… But the world hated the Son of the infinite God.” Review & Herald. Sep 20. 1881.
This is our challenge today -- to believe that God really did send His Son. To deny Christ His heavenly origin, makes God “a liar.” 1 John 5:10. It also make Christ a liar too, as He said over and over again that His Father sent Him. (See page God Sent)
It is such a blessing to know that “God should consent to let His only begotten Son come to a world all seared and marred with the curse, to walk a man among men, and to suffer death by crucifixion -- does not this bear eloquent witness to the power of God's love?” Youth’s Instructor. August 21, 1902.
Believe it won't you?
The following is the last chapter in 'Removing the Pillar' with additions.