A careful reading of the Old Testament seems to indicate that the word Elohim is often used as an exalted title for deity as well as a noun meaning God or angels. It is at times also used to speak of pagan gods.
Both titles, Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) and Adonai (אֲדֹנָי) have been applied to each God the Father and God the Son. In the Old Testament, it needs to be pointed out, however, Elohim is almost always associated with Jehovah or Yahweh (JHVH or YHWH).
For instance, in the KJV, we frequently encounter the expression LORD God, which literally, in Hebrew, would be rendered Jehovah Elohim (יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים). Furthermore, we come across scriptures that say that the “LORD he is God,” (Deuteronomy 4:35), יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים. Or rather, the more literal rendition is “Jehovah, He the God.” This last statement is given a double emphasis in 1 Kings 18:39: יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים.
Once again, it becomes clear that when Elohim is used as an exalted title in the Jewish Holy Scriptures or Old Covenant, that it almost always refers to Jehovah, Jeshua, or the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
This does not mean that God the Father is absent from the Old Covenant. As we shall see, he is intimately present. In Genesis 1:1 we read: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Or rather, “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.”
Analyzing the Hebrew for the expression ‘in the beginning’ (BERESHIT, בְּרֵאשִׁית), the Prophet Joseph Smith taught us that בְּרֵאשִׁית, based on the word ROSH (רֹאשׁ), head, originally was missing the BETH (ב) and meant “The Head One of the Gods.” The expression Elohim has been defined precisely as the head God in the Ugaritic tradition (TWOT).
Elohim does not appear in our Standard Works in English
Lest anyone be confused, the word Elohim does not appear in our Standard Works in English. It emerges hundreds of times in Hebrew and almost always represents the LORD God, or Jehovah God, the Christ.
In General Conference and LDS writings (including the LDS Topical Guide and the writings of the Brethren), when the exalted title Elohim is used, it should be noted, it almost always represents the Father.
But returning to the topic of Divine Investiture, the Savior makes it clear that none of His words are His own, but rather, He glorifies the Father: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49, emphasis added).
We also read: “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me…” (John 17:7–8a).
The Sweetness of the Unity between the Godhead
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct beings who are one in purpose. There is no envy between them. They are of one mind. This truth was powerfully revealed to me by the Holy Spirit on the way home from school, as a young boy of thirteen or so, years before I ever saw, heard of, or handled the Book of Mormon (or any literature published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
It is understandable that some Christians outside of our faith—when taking the scriptures out of context—are confused: “Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:8–11).
As LDS we believe that the Savior of mankind, Jehovah, was made in the similitude of Elohim, God the Father. The person who has seen the Son has also seen the Father because of their likeness. Not just physical likeness, but perhaps even more importantly, behavioral.
The primary purpose of these verses, then, is not to speak just of the physical similarity between the Father and the Son, but to make it clear that the Father and the Son are one in purpose—despite being different individuals.
The next verse makes this plain: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12–14).
In other words, just as the Savior does the works of the Father, we can do the works of the Savior, which in turn are the works the Father would have us do.
So also we have the words of the Savior: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:21–22, emphasis added).
This is essentially a message of unity of purpose, as we find in D&C 50:43, “And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you.”
John 17:11b; 17:21–22 make this point even clearer, beyond any doubt, that the question is one of unity of purpose: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are,” and “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” Well is it said that “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).
All revelation comes through Jesus Christ
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:27).
Elder McConkie explains: “How does God reveal himself? Though the ways may be infinite, the perfect and crowning way is by direct revelation, by visions, by personal visitations. According to the laws of mediation and intercession which the Father himself ordained, he has chosen to reveal himself through the Son, ordaining that all revelation shall come through the Son, though that holy personage frequently speaks in the Father’s name by divine investiture of authority; that is, he speaks in the first person as though he were the Father, because the Father has placed his name upon the Son.”
Except for those times when the Father is introducing the Son, then, the words of the Father are pronounced and brought to us by the Son through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost.
The Son delights in giving all honor and glory to the Father
In the Book of Mormon, when referring to words given by Jehovah to Malachi, the Savior reminds us that these words, the words spoken in the Old Covenant by the Holy Prophets, are truly the words of the Father—even if delivered by the Son: “And it came to pass that he commanded them that they should write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which he should tell unto them … Thus said the Father unto Malachi—Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant … ” (3 Nephi 24:1, emphasis added).
As women and men who are disciples of Christ, we pray to the Father, in the name of the Son. We receive an answer through Christ who manifests it unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Note the perfect pattern of prayer: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he [I interpret this to mean, He, Christ] will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4).
The revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants were given by the Savior (either directly, or through the Holy Ghost). For example, “listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer” (D&C 15:1b, also see D&C 6:21; 10:57; 14:9; 16:1; 17:9; 18:47; etc.).
Nephi, similarly, explains that the words he has spoken come from the Son: “if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 33:10b).
We might well say that the Holy Ghost speaks for the Son as the Son speaks for the Father. Each of these represents instances of Divine Investiture. And so also when a Prophet speaks, he speaks through Divine Investiture. We read: “And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth—And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come” (D&C 68:2–6).
It follows, then, that when a Priesthood holder gives a blessing, he speaks the words of Christ as received through the power of the Holy Ghost, through Divine Investiture. So also, when members deliver a talk or give a lesson as moved by the Holy Ghost. This is why it is so vital to teach by the Spirit and bless by the Spirit and live by the Spirit. Each one of these will be justified by the Holy Spirit of Promise when we so act, and be brought to the hearts of the people we teach, serve and bless.
Power of attorney
Divine Investiture, then, is like a power of attorney: “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen” (D&C 1:37–39, emphasis added).
Note, again, the beauty of acting in unity. This is in part why the Lord teaches: “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27b).
In Isaiah Christ speaks about His own mission
We hear the Son of Man speaking about His own mission through the words of the Prophet Isaiah, as the mortal Messiah, as if it was the Father who was speaking. Thus we have Jehovah speaking in Isaiah 53:6 and 53:10, “and the LORD (Jehovah, יהוָה) hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and “Yet it pleased the LORD (Jehovah, יהוָה) to bruise him.”
It is the Holy One of Israel speaking, but He (Jehovah, Christ) is speaking for the Father in first person about Himself (Christ) in relation to his future Messianic role. When I am asked to be a language interpreter at a meeting, and the speaker says, “I have a testimony,” I do not say, “He has a testimony,” but rather, “I have a testimony” (not, él tiene un testimonio but rather yo tengo un testimonio).
The Son, as our advocate before the Father, likewise speaks the words of the Father precisely as spoken by the Father. So it is in the Book of Moses: “And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all’ (Moses 1:6, emphasis added). Once again, it is the Son who speaks the words of the Father throughout the book of Moses.
There are notable exceptions in Scripture, where the Father is introducing or bearing witness of the Son. For instance, in the New Covenant, when Christ is upon the earth, we hear the Father glorifying the Son (e.g., Matthew 3:17, John 12:28). In Joseph Smith History–1:17b, Elohim the Eternal Father introduces the Son to the boy Prophet Joseph Smith:
“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
An example all can understand
The Book of Revelation gives a perfect example of Divine Investiture that our Christian friends from other denominations will understand. An angel speaks the words of Christ. John distinctly hears the words of the Savior spoken in first person from the angelic messenger who is clothed in great glory (see a similar event in the Ascension of Isaiah):
“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7). John thought himself in the presence of our Redeemer. Scripture tells us that he fell down to worship but was prevented from doing so: “Then saith he [the angel] unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Revelation 22:9).
It is not possible to understand Isaiah without understanding that the Savior often explicitly speaks to Isaiah as if He were the Father. And even when He does not appear to be speaking for the Father, the Savior is still speaking for the Father.
“Jesus … said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth … That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:19b–20a, 23).
In summary, the principle of Divine Investiture is everywhere in our lives as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. We speak in His name often, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost to do so. In the Hebrew Bible, in almost every instance that the word Elohim is used, it is used as a title of honor for Christ, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). There are portions of Isaiah that are impossible to comprehend without being award of the principle of Divine Investiture.