Summary: God did not answer Moses’ question of “who am I?” Instead He answered Him with His “I Am that I Am” What does God mean by that? God wanted to tell Moses, just present yourself. He would start to fill those blanks! How ‘bout you?
What’s in a name?
In the Bible, a person’s name often signifies his character or ability or mission — especially when the name is given by God.
God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah (Genesis 17:15,16)
“...and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.”
He changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28).
“And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel:
for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
And when the Son of God came into the world, His name was not left to chance: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
This is the reason, Moses was asking the name of God, for knowing the names of God will help him trust God with his daily affairs and eternal destinies.
This would have made perfect sense, seeing that the Egyptians themselves had over 1500 gods!
They would surely want to know if it was "Oh, another one of them?!"
In keeping with the important attributes of a name, when God said,
“Tell them 'I Am That I Am' sent you", He was making sure Moses knew and would tell his people that a Being with no beginning, no end, no parentage, and no ethnicity sent him.
He was "Existence" itself.
He transcended time, space, matter and all other "gods".
He was, truly, the God Who Existed.
In christiananswers.net, they listed 956 names of God and Titles which they said were in the Scriptures from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
(The phrase translated “I am who I am” in Hebrew is
“ehyeh asher ehyeh”. The word ehyeh is the first person common singular of the verb to be. It would be used in any number of normal situations: “I am watching the sheep,” “I am walking on the road,” or “I am his father.” However, when used as a stand-alone description, I AM is the ultimate statement of self-sufficiency, self-existence, and immediate presence. God’s existence is not contingent upon anyone else. His plans are not contingent upon any circumstances. He promises that He will be what He will be; that is, He will be the eternally constant God. He stands, ever-present and unchangeable, completely sufficient in Himself to do what He wills to do and to accomplish what He wills to accomplish.
When God identified Himself as I AM WHO I AM, He stated that, no matter when or where, He is there. It is similar to the New Testament expression in Revelation 1:8, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” This is true of Him for all time, but it would have been especially appropriate for a message in Moses’ day to a people in slavery and who could see no way out. I AM was promising to free them, and they could count on Him!
Moses and Aaron delivered the message to Pharaoh: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’” Pharaoh replied, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:1–2).
Pharaoh stood in opposition to the LORD. Pharaoh was not willing to concede that there was a power higher than himself. He was not willing to yield his plans to the One who was all-powerful and all-sufficient.
In essence, Pharaoh was saying “I am who I am, and therefore I will not yield to another.” This seems to be the besetting sin of humanity.
God is “The Great I AM,” but we continually want to be our own “I am”
We make plans and determine that we will fulfill them no matter what. Even evidence to the contrary does not readily convince us of our weakness and contingency.
One of Frank Sinatra’s signature songs was “I Did It My Way.”
The final lines of the song, written by Paul Anka, express a common refrain of mankind:
“For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.”
God is the only One who can accurately describe Himself as “I AM.” Jesus claimed the title I AM for Himself in John 8:58.