Summary: In the name, "I AM", we find everything we will ever need, forever.
“WHAT’S IN A NAME?”
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’, and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM as sent me to you’.’”
I don’t know who first asked the question, ‘what’s in a name?’ I don’t remember ever hearing it as a quote from a book or anything.
I’ve just always heard it as a sort of rhetorical question, asked when someone hears a name that might reflect either positively or negatively on the basic character of the name holder, and then they ask, ‘but what’s in a name?’
The implication is that a name is just a name, and a person’s moniker does not determine their moment by moment behavior, and certainly not the course of their life.
Now admittedly, we do see example after example in the scriptures of people’s names having a great deal to do with who they were and what their recorded accomplishments were. Sometimes we wonder which came first; their acts or their names.
Sometimes their names were changed. Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Israel. Pharaoh to ‘mud’. In these cases, by God, who knew the future and named them accordingly. Other times they were named from birth by their mothers, but their lives seemed to act out the meaning of the name. As in, Peleg, meaning ‘the divide’, during whose lifetime the earth was divided (Gen 10:25); and Joshua, who led God’s people into the promised land as a type of the Great Joshua, or Yeshua, or Jesus, who was to come.
Over time and across cultures names have come to bear less significance. You might be named after your grandfather or grandmother, or a favorite uncle or a dear friend of your parents.
When my sister had her first son she named him Jacob. I said, “Oh! Great Bible name!” To which she responded with, “No, just before he was born we went to the movies and saw “Big Jake” with John Wayne, so I decided to name him Jake.”
But we can rejoice today that in the case of God there has been no change and there never will be a change in His name; and the reason is because He does not change.
What I want to look at today, first, is what His name tells us about Him, and then why who He is and what He is means everything to us.
GOD’S NAME IS WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE IS
A few of you will remember a couple of weeks ago in the adult Sunday School class, when I read these words from Tozer:
“So God is what He is in Himself, He does not become what we believe. “I AM WHO I AM”. We are on safe ground only when we know what kind of God He is and adjust our entire being to the holy concept.”
(THAT INCREDIBLE CHRISTIAN – A.W. Tozer Christian Publications ch 6 )
I wrote in the margin of my book next to that paragraph, in quotation marks, ‘I like to think of God as…”
I wrote that as an example of the error Tozer was warning against. As soon as we start to think of God in terms of how we’d like Him to be, we have begun down the road of error. And the fact we need to consider today as Christians, without shaking our heads and clicking our tongues at those outside our circles who are in obvious error in their cavalier approach to God and bible truth, is that we who take some level of pride in our bold stand on the infallibility and inerrancy of God’s word, and our pinpoint doctrine and our careful exegesis of scripture, may be just as guilty as the non-believer or the so-called liberal Christian, of worshipping some idol god of our own making, by virtue of our faulty thinking about Him.
Through the prophet Isaiah God declared “…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
And we need to understand clearly today with the help of the Holy Spirit, that He wasn’t just sending a message to His enemies when He said that. He was declaring something about Himself that will remain completely true at least until we’re all glorified and transformed completely into His image; that He is not like us, and He will not become what is comfortable and convenient for us.
Because of the fallen nature our independent thinking about God will always be refracted and bound to error, and it will only be the enlightening of the Spirit of God to our understanding, of that which is revealed about Him in His holy word, that will keep us anywhere near the straight and narrow as concerns our understanding of Him.