Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Reexamining the context of Mark 12:28-34 in light of Trinitarian Beliefs Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We resume our rebuttal.

A Preexistent Heavenly Being

In light of what we just saw in the first part of our discussion we are now left with two options. The Messiah is either a created angelic being that comes to rule on David’s throne or he is a fully Divine Person distinct from God since Psalm 110:1 distinguishes between Yahweh and David’s Lord, thereby giving us two distinct Divine Persons.

In fact, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (known as the Septuagint) attests that the Jewish scribes understood from Psalm 110 that David’s Lord is a preexistent figure:

A Psalm of David. The Lord said to my Lord (eipen ho kyrios to kyrio mou), ‘Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ A rod of you power the Lord shall send out from Sion. And exercise dominion in the midst of your enemies. With you is rule on a day of your power, among the splendours of the holy ones (ton hagion): From the womb, before the Morning-star (pro heosphorou), I brought you forth/begot you.” Psalm 109:1-3

David’s Lord not only sits at God’s right hand to rule over his enemies he was also begotten or brought forth from the womb before the formation of the Morning-star! Thus, the Greek version of Psalm 110 affirms that David’s Sovereign Master existed before the creation of the world since the stars (as well as the angels) were made before the world was fashioned:

“Where were you when I was laying the earth’s foundation? Now tell me, if you are endowed with understanding. Who determined its measures, if you know? Or who was it that stretched a line upon it? On what have its rings been fastened? And who is he that cast a cornerstone upon it? When the stars (astra) were born, all my angels (pantes angeloi mou) praised me with a loud voice.” Job 38:4-7

The translation from the Hebrew of Job 38:7 reads:

“when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” NASB

Hence, the preceding factors provide further attestation that the Messiah is either an angelic creature or a fully Divine Being, and therefore God.

However, there are problems with the created angel view since the Scriptures expressly teach that not only does Yahweh reign in heaven above:

“And Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;’” 1 Kings 22:19

“Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth?” Psalm 113:5-6

“To thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens!” Psalm 123:1

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’” Isaiah 6:1-5

He also reigns or sits enthroned in Zion or Jerusalem:

“But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice… Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!” Psalm 9:7, 11

“O LORD, remember David and all the hardships he endured. He swore an oath to the LORD and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: ‘I will not enter my house or go to my bed- I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.’ We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: ‘Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool- arise, O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy.’ For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed one. The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: ‘One of your own descendants I will place on your throne- if your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.’ For the LORD has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it-’” Psalm 132:1-14

“And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the LORD, they shall no more say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.” Jeremiah 3:16-17

“In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was conquered, on that very day, the hand of the LORD was upon me, and brought me in the visions of God into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city opposite me… Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was like the vision which I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like the vision which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple; and he said to me, ‘Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel for ever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their harlotry, and by the dead bodies of their kings, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations which they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their idolatry and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst for ever.’” Ezekiel 40:1-2, 43:1-9

And despite the fact that Yahweh has assigned control over the nations to certain spirits (specifically wicked spirits, including Satan), he has set Israel aside as his own possession:

“And beware lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. But the LORD has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own possession, as at this day.” Deuteronomy 4:19-20

“Do you thus requite the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you? Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you. When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. For the LORD's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:6-12

“Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia.’ … Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I am through with him, lo, the prince of Greece will come.’” Daniel 10:12-13, 20

This led many of the Jews to conclude that Yahweh alone ruled over Israel:

“He appointed a ruler for every nation, but Israel is the Lord's own portion.” Sirach 17:17


“For Ishmael and his sons and his brothers and Esau, the Lord did not cause to approach Him, and he chose them not because they are the children of Abraham, because He knew them, but He chose Israel to be His people. And He sanctified it, and gathered it from amongst all the children of men; for there are many nations and many peoples, and all are His, and over all hath He placed spirits in authority to lead them astray from Him. But over Israel He did not appoint any angel or spirit, for He alone is their ruler, and He will preserve them and require them at the hand of His angels and His spirits, and at the hand of all His powers in order that He may preserve them and bless them, and that they may be His and He may be theirs from henceforth for ever.” Jubilees 15:30-32 (*)

The above authors clearly saw from their reading of the sacred Scriptures that Yahweh didn’t permit any spirit being to rule over his people nor were they allowed to serve and worship any other heavenly being besides him.(1)

Which leads us to our next point. According to the Holy Bible the kings of Israel sat on Yahweh’s earthly throne, ruling his people on his behalf as his earthly representatives:

“And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.” 1 Chronicles 28:5

“Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the LORD your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them for ever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” 2 Chronicles 9:8

This meant that the Israelite kings were higher than any other earthly ruler, having been appointed by Yahweh to be the heirs of the world and everything in it:

“Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.’ Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:1-12

“Of old thou didst speak in a vision to thy faithful one, and say: ‘I have set the crown upon one who is mighty, I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him; so that my hand shall ever abide with him, my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, “Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.” And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for him for ever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens.’” Psalm 89:19-29

As such David’s Lord could not be a mere creature, human or otherwise, since there was no one besides Yahweh in heaven or on earth who was greater than David and his royal sons. Therefore, the only way for the Messiah to be David’s Lord is if he is fully God in essence.

Adonay at Yahweh’s Right Hand

In fact, the same Psalm calls David’s Lord Adonay and therefore further establishes that he is God!

The Lord (Adonay) is at YOUR right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.” Psalm 110:5-7

Here, Adonay is the One who will bring judgment against the nations and their kings, and will even drink from a brook! This clearly refers to David's Lord in verse 1, not just because he drinks from a brook of water, a human function, but also because he is said to be at “your right hand.” In verse 1, this refers to the right hand of Yahweh:

“The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at MY right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’”

Thus, the Messiah is expressly called Adonay, which is an exclusively Divine title used for Yahweh!

What makes this all the more amazing is that according to the Psalms Yahweh is David’s Adonay!

“A Miktam of David. Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge. I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord (Adonay); I have no good apart from you.’” Psalm 16:1-2

“You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! Bestir yourself, and awake for my right, for my cause, my God and my Lord (Adonay)!” Psalm 35:22-23

Thus, the only way that Yahweh and the Messiah could both be called Adonay is if they are both fully God in essence! And yet the only way that there can be two distinct Divine Persons with God still being one is if Israel’s God is multi-personal in nature!

We are not done yet since we still have more evidence that David’s Lord is a fully Divine Person distinct from God.

The Messianic Son of Man

In his trial before the high priest Jesus provided additional proofs from the prophetic Scriptures that David’s Lord is God Almighty:

“And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?’ But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his garments, and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death.” Mark 14:60-64

Jesus identifies himself as the Son of Man who sits at God’s right hand and comes with the clouds of heaven. In saying this Christ has combined two OT passages, the one from Psalm 110:1 and this next one from the prophet Daniel:

“As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was Ancient of Days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened… I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve/worship him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

Notice that Daniel sees thrones set it place, one of which belonged to the Ancient of Days and the other obviously belonging to the Son of Man.

This particular Son of Man is obviously a fully Divine Person who appears as a man since he is worshiped like the Ancient of Days/Most High (i.e. God),

“And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve/worship and obey him.” Daniel 7:27

And even rides the clouds like God!

“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens, and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him there broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.” Psalm 18:6-13

“Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds; his name is the LORD, exult before him! … Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, [Selah] to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; lo, he sends forth his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and his power is in the skies.” Psalm 68:4, 32-34 – cf. 104:3

“An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.” Isaiah 19:1

“The LORD is slow to anger and of great might, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3

Hence, in claiming to be the Son of Man of Daniel who sits at God’s right hand Jesus provides additional evidence from the OT that David’s Lord is actually God in the flesh.

We now move to our final section.

The unique Son of God

Before affirming the unity of God and his absolute Deity Jesus had already referred to himself as God’s beloved Son and Heir earlier in Mark 12:

“And he began to speak to them in parables. ‘A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But those tenants said to one another, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’ And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away.” Mark 12:1-12

The servants in the parable are supposed to be God’s prophets according to the OT:

“From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; yet they did not listen to me, or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.” Jeremiah 7:25-26

“You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law which I have set before you, and to heed the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not heeded, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’” Jeremiah 26:4-6 – cf. 44:4

By claiming to be the Owner’s beloved Son Jesus differentiates himself from the prophets since he is not a servant like them. This shows that he actually believed that he was greater than God’s inspired prophets and therefore more than a prophet!

His greatness is further seen by the fact that he is God’s Heir, meaning that everything that the Father owns belongs equally to him! Therefore, since God owns everything in creation this indicates that the entire creation belongs equally to the Son. Moreover, since God owns the prophets Jesus must own them as well and therefore has greater authority and honor than them!

The inspired author of Hebrews does a wonderful job of explaining this:

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews 1:1-3

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house-- whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” Hebrews 3:1-6

Concluding Remarks

We have seen from our examination of Mark 12:28-34 within both the immediate context of the chapter and the broader context of the Scriptures as a whole that the one Lord whom the Israelites worshiped is multi-personal.

We discovered that although Jesus fully affirmed and embraced the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 he did not interpret this confession along Unitarian lines much like the rabbinical Jews and Muslims do. Instead, Jesus went on to prove from the OT writings themselves that the one Lord God of Israel is multi-personal and that the Messiah is included within the Divine identity of Israel’s one God. He did this by referring to himself as David’s Lord and God’s beloved Son and Heir, thereby distinguishing himself from the prophets who are merely God’s servants.

Moreover, in quoting the OT to prove the Divine nature of the Messiah Jesus proved that the Hebrew Scriptures emphatically deny that God is uni-personal in nature. His appeal to the sacred Scriptures of the Jews to establish that the Messiah is a fully Divine Person who is distinct from God conclusively proves that the inspired prophets were NOT unitarians. Jesus’ interpretation demonstrates that long before he became flesh the prophets had already borne witness to God’s people that there is more than one fully Divine Person and that the Messiah is God who becomes a human being to rule on David’s throne forever as his descendent!

Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come! You are the Messianic Son of Man and David’s risen Lord who reigns forever and shall be worshiped by all creation! We love and worship you forever and ever, O eternal and beloved Son of God and immortal King of glory! Amen.

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(1) The preceding helps us to better understand the meaning of the following verses:

“But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.” Daniel 10:21

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book." Daniel 12:1

In light of what we just read Michael cannot be Israel’s ruler whom they serve and worship, but rather he is the angelic prince whom God has assigned to guard the nation and to fight against their enemies. In other words, Michael is an angelic being who has command over other spirit beings that serve him, but not over Israel, since he is commissioned to serve the covenant community by protecting them.

This means that Michael cannot be David’s Lord since the former didn’t rule over the latter nor did David serve the angel but vice-versa.

The NT writings pick up on this theme since the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures state that angels are God’s servants created to serve both God and his chosen ones:

“Of the angels he says, ‘Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’ But of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades.’… But to what angel has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” Hebrews 1:7-9, 13-14

This explains why the angel in Revelation whom both God and Christ sent to speak with John refused to be worshiped, stating that he was a fellow servant with the prophets:

“And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon.’ Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” Revelation 22:6-9

It is therefore clear from the overall teachings of the Holy Scriptures that the only Being who could have been higher in status and position than David was Yahweh himself. As such, neither a spirit creature nor a mere human ruler could ever be David’s Lord.