In Exodus 3, God invites Moses to a conversation by lighting a fire in the desert. During the conversation, God gives Moses a task (actually, more of a big project). Moses has some questions. One question involves God’s name and character.
In Exodus 3:13-15, Moses asked God what His name was. Moses explained that the Israelites will ask exactly who sent him to them. God answers, “I AM THAT I AM.” Tell the people I AM has sent you.” Then God explains further, “Tell them ‘Jehovah (Yahweh)’, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, set you. Jehovah is the way you are to remember Me from generations on.
So, which is it – “I AM THAT I AM” or “I AM” or “Jehovah”? These are 3 variations of the same name and characteristic of God. Let’s work backwards.
Jehovah (the English form) or Yahweh (the Hebrew form) is a name of God the Israelites would recognize. The first place in Scripture we read this name is in Genesis 2:4. Jehovah was there at creation! In Genesis alone, the name is recorded over 160 times – often in the names of people. Jochabed, Moses’ mother, had Jehovah in her name. Her name meant “Yahweh is my glory.” God was not identifying Himself as someone new. He was reminding them of the promises given to their forefathers. I AM the God who your fathers knew and I AM the God who knows you.
Throughout the Bible, God starts many sentences with “I AM.” I AM with you. I AM your refuge. I AM giving. . . Jesus used the phrase as well to describe His work. I AM the way, the truth, and the life. I AM the living bread that came down from heaven. I AM the resurrection and the life. In this encounter with Moses, He doesn’t explain how He came into existence. He simply says He is completely different from me. He exists outside the time/space continuum where I’m confined to live. He relies on nothing outside Himself and I must depend on many things.
“I AM THAT I AM” looks like this mathematical equation to me: I AM = I AM.
But the words can also be translated “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE”: I WILL BE = I WILL BE.
So this is also true: I AM = I WILL BE and I WILL BE = I AM. He is unchanging. He has integrity through and through and He always will. That’s hard to comprehend when I live in a world that is always changing.
Heavenly Father, How different would my life be if I lived truly believing that whatever You say You are is exactly who and what You are? Help me lean on your unchanging faithfulness – even when the world about me, and sometimes in me, is moving toward more chaos, confusion, and decay. Help me remember that whatever my need, You are what I lack.
Where do you need to see God’s unchanging character in your life today?