Summary: Do you ever struggle to make sense of the things going in life? Why would God allow certain things to happen. The name "I AM" is one that helps us in the way we look at the things that we and others are going through in this life that might not make sense to us.
Do you ever struggle to understand why God would allow certain things to happen? You turn on the TV, read the latest headlines, look at the world around you, or what is personally going on in your own life, and we struggle to make sense of things. A natural disaster claims the lives of hundreds and thousands. Acts of violence committed against others for no other reason than that people look different or believe differently than someone else. We see children who are abused and neglected by those who should be caring and protecting them. We watch a person battling cancer or struggle with chronic pain or a disease. Without warning you lose a job, a house or a loved one. We struggle to make sense of it, to understand why God would allow this to happen to them, or to me.
Moses was a man who was struggling to make sense of things in his life. It was right around the year 1500 BC. Moses was a Jew of the nation of Israel who had been born and raised in Egypt. He spent his adolescent and young adult life in the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt, being raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. But one day, Moses saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite and Moses took things into his own hands and killed the Egyptian. Moses was forced to flee Egypt finally ending up in a placed called Midian (250 miles to the east of Egypt). Moses took up shepherding there, got a married, had a couple of sons, and probably thought he was going to live out the rest of his life in relative obscurity. But the Lord had other plans for Moses.
One day while Moses is out shepherding, he saw a bush that was on fire, but the bush was not burning up. He went over to get a closer look and that’s when he heard a voice coming from within the burning bush. The voice identifies himself as God, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). God then revealed his plan to rescue his chosen nation of Israel, who had spent the last 400 years in Egypt and were now being used as slave labor for the Egyptians. And guess who was supposed to lead the Israel’s exodus from Egypt. God said to Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10).
Moses was struggling on so many different levels. Moses had settled down in Midian and now the Lord wanted him to return to Egypt! Egypt, the place where he may still be wanted for a crime he committed years ago? He’s supposed to LEAD an entire nation of Israelites? The only thing Moses had experience leading was sheep! And even if he did go back to Egypt, why would the Israelites ever listen to him? He didn’t even know the name of the God who was telling him to do all these things. It just didn’t make sense. That’s when God says, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
That name “I AM” is a rather interesting way for God to identify himself. In Hebrew “I AM” is thought to sound like “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” It’s actually a little hard to know what exactly that name for God sounds like because the Old Testament Jews would never say this specific name of God out loud. They considered this specific name of God so sacred and holy that they would insert another one of God’s names in its place whenever they came across it. Many of our English translations of the Bible continue to reflect the importance and reverence of this specific name of God by using all capital letters (LORD) whenever the Bible uses this specific name for God in the Bible – and rightfully so.
The name “I AM” emphasize the uniqueness of the God of the Bible. There is never a time at which God is not. God is eternal, without beginning or end. The Psalmist wrote, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). God’s perspective of time and history is not limited like ours to what has or is happening. God’s see it all – past, present and future. Jesus, as true God from all of eternity, reminded his fellow Jews of this when they thought that Abraham was better than Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). “I AM” is present at all times.
The name “I AM” also speaks to the fact that God is completely independent. His existence does not depend on anyone or anything. Unlike us who depended upon our parents to be born, and people to care for us when we cannot care for ourselves, who require food, drink and sleep to stay alive, God does not. God is completely independent. As the Bible says, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things” (Romans 11:35,36). That means that every interaction on the part of God, his involvement and interest in our world and our personal lives, is not because he needs or is looking for something from us. He acts because he chooses to do so in his grace and mercy. His countless demonstrations of love are completely unearned and undeserved by those who are recipients of it.