Summary: In this sermon in our names of Jesus series, we are looking at the name I AM and what this means when Jesus uses it of Himself when it comes to our relationship with Him, in that He doesn't change and that He will keep His word and promises.
Names of Jesus
“The Great I Am”
The Name, “I AM” is the most iconic and recognizable name of God, and it is from this name that the name Jehovah or Yahweh comes from.
The name Jehovah is used over 6,800 times in the Bible. It is the personal name of the Lord God of Israel.
Now, to understand this name when Jesus used it, we need to go back and understand the name itself and how God used it and what it means to all of us.
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14 NKJV)
We do ourselves a disservice if we leave it here, because the name, “I Am Who I Am,” is actually the description of the most Holy name of God, a name by which so many if His other names are derived, and that is the name Jehovah, or Yahweh.
Follow me with this. Look at what the Lord now says to Moses.
“Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord (Yahweh) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” (Exodus 3:15 NKJV)
The “I AM Who I AM” is the description of Yahweh. It’s where we get the Hebrew “YHWH.”
This name of God, which according to Jewish tradition is too holy to say out loud, is spelled out in these four consonants, YHWH without the vowels, which makes it unpronounceable, and is referred to as the Holy Tetragrammaton. The word tetragrammaton means “four letters.”
YHWH comes from the Hebrew letters: “Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay.” Jehovah and Yahweh are then hybrid terms. What that means is that the vowels from the word, Adonai, which is another name for lord, are inserted into the four Hebrew consonants.
And so the pronunciation for the name of God, or Lord, has been "Yahweh," or "Jehovah," but no one knows for certain the exact pronunciation.
However not wanting to take God’s holy name in vain, the Jews, around the third century A.D., stopped saying this name in fear of breaking the third commandment, Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
To accomplish this they substituted the name “Adonai,” in its place, and began writing God’s holy name “G-D” in the English, again consonants only with the vowel missing.
But remember I said that the I AM is more of a description than it is a name, and it describes the name God gave to Moses saying, “The Lord God … has sent me.”
To reveal this tie in, it might be good to note that Jehovah, or Yahweh, is derived from the Hebrew word, “havah,” which means, “to be.” The Hebrew word for “I Am,” is “ehyeh,” and it comes from the root word, “havah.” And so the “I AM” is in essence the same as Yahweh.
It has been noted by scholars that in the Hebrew “I Am” may more literally be translated, “I will be.”
Does this change anything? Not in my estimation. As I see it, God is saying, “I am who I am, and I will be who I will be. Therefore, you can’t change me into whatever you want. But I will be whatever you need.”
The “I Am Who I Am” expresses the truth that nothing or no one defines who God is but the Lord God Himself.
Therefore who are we to try to define God when He has already defined Himself, which unfortunately is exactly what people and religion are trying to do today.
This was the Jewish authority’s problem when they picked up stones to pit Jesus to death when He said, “before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58 NKJV) They did not recognized prophecy and felt they knew God, when all they really knew was the law.
This idea that God is who He is, and that He will be what we need is seen in the giving of this name to Moses.
To the Jews in captivity God was going to be for them their deliverance, but even more, He would be their everything as the name Jehovah is attached to so many of God’s names and attributes.
Listen to just some of His names and what they mean to all of us.
• Jehovah-Shammah – I am the Lord God who is there for you, I am present even when you don’t need Me.
• Jehovah-Jireh – I am the Lord God who provides for you. I am the Lord God who knows what you need even before you need it.