Text: Exodus 3:7 – 4:17
In biblical times, a person’s name was not just something they were called. A name told you something about that person. About who they were and what they did. It told you their story. So a name was a very significant thing.
Now there are many names of God revealed in Scripture, but the name God reveals of Himself to Moses is “I AM”. The phrase “I AM” does not just mean “I exist”. It literally means, “I am who I am. I will do what I will do. I will be what I will be.” It’s this insight that God is giving to Moses, not only in revealing God’s name, but revealing important things about God’s nature, that Moses would need to know to accomplish this impossible mission God was calling him to. And things about God’s character that He wants you and I to know for our lives today. Five aspects of God’s character He reveals about Himself:
1. I AM: The God who is, and is with you (3:7-14)
One aspect of the name I AM points to God’s nearness. He is, and He is near. “I AM, and I will be with you.” He exists, and He has drawn near to reveal Himself to His people. He is not limited only to past tense – I WAS. He is not only future tense – I WILL BE. He is I AM, here and now, present and near to His people.
Before God ever sent Moses on a mission, God first brought Moses into His presence, to know God, to be empowered by God, and to be reminded of God’s promises. Without God’s presence we can do nothing. But with God, we have all we need. God is with you, and through the Holy Spirit, God is in you. When we are weak, in His presence we find strength. When we are hopeless, in His presence we find hope. When we are afraid, In His presence we find the faith and the courage to go on.
2. I AM: The God who is faithful (3:15-22)
Here we see God is faithful to his covenant promises (v. 15), faithful to rescue His people (vv. 16-17) and faithful to provide (vv. 18-22). God’s people would not leave as slaves. They would leave Egypt as conquerors, having “plundered” the Egyptians – because God is faithful to provide.
God – the Great I Am is faithful to His covenant. You and I know the fulfillment of that covenant. It’s not just when Israel left Egypt. It’s when Jesus left heaven and came down to earth. The Father is faithful, so He sent Jesus. Because Jesus is faithful, He rescued God’s people from our sin, and provided for us all the grace and strength and power and faith we need to walk in that freedom.
3. I AM: The God of transforming power (4:1-9)
Three different signs that God puts in Moses’ arsenal. Three different miracles to convince the Hebrews and Pharaoh that Moses truly is sent by God. And each one that God alone has transforming power. But these miracles were not just for later, only to convince others. Notice that God showed Moses two of those miracles right then and there. This was to encourage Moses’ faith as well, to remind Moses that the Great I AM has transforming power. The God who can turn a dead stick into a living creature can take can take an old shepherd and turn him into a mighty deliverer.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus displayed transforming power over nature by calming the storm. Power over disease by healing the sick and raising the dead. Power over the enemy by casting out devils. These were to prove to people He really was the Messiah. But these miracles were also to point to the greater miracle of the one who came to heal our spiritual sickness, the greater miracle of turning dead hearts of stone to living hearts of flesh, of redeeming was seemed irredeemable. To reconcile sinful man to a holy God.
4. I AM: The God who gives His Word (4:10-12)
We’re not sure if Moses was just afraid of public speaking, or if he genuinely had a speech impediment. Either way, God’s answer is the same. “Moses, who made your mouth? In fact, Moses, who made the mute and deaf and seeing and blind? Did not I make them all?” Moses is being reminded that God is the one who makes all things, including Moses’ own mouth. God made it, and God knows how to fill it with His words.
We are again pointed forward to Jesus. Jesus was called “the Word” in John 1. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of God’s word. Jesus is the better prophet, speaking only what the Father gave Him to speak. He is I AM – the God who gives His word. And He is faithful to fill our hearts and our mouths with His word, that we may encourage one another, and so that we will be able to share the life-changing message of the gospel with the world.
5. I AM: The God of patience and compassion (4:13-17)
Five times Moses responds to God with fear and unbelief. (We would likely respond the same way!) But notice how patient God is. God answered every question and hesitation. Every time Moses pointed to his own weakness, God pointed to HIS own strength.
How patient God is with us, in our doubts and our fears. How compassionate He is to meet us in our weakness, in our anxieties, in our worries. In those moments He whispers His promises to our hearts and gives us His peace. I AM is a God of patience and compassion. He’s not waiting on you to be perfect before He loves you. The perfect one has already come. It’s because of Him – it’s because of Jesus that you and I know the patience and kindness of God.
Think about it…
Jesus once told some angry Pharisees, ” ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ ” ~John 8:56-58
You and I may not be standing before a burning bush today, hearing the audible voice of God. But we have something even better. We have Jesus – the Great I AM. God with us. He has given us salvation. He has given us His written word. He has given us the Holy Spirit. He has given us Himself.