We are exploring the implications of the command, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” (Ex. 20:7) In contrast to the misuse, this week, we are learning more about some of the names of God. In so doing, we are growing in appreciation for who He is.
In our culture, a name is most often chosen on the basis of how it sounds. For the parents and family, the name may have some kind of association with another person who bore that name. Names do not carry inherent meaning in most instances. Not so with many of the names of God. They are typically used as descriptors of His character, His activity, or His interaction with man.
Today’s reading highlights God’s call of Moses to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt. In verse 13, Moses’ attention turned to God’s identity. He wanted to be able to respond to the Israelite’s potential question of God’s identity. He wanted to be able to answer the question, “What is His name?” Moses wasn’t expecting God to mention a meaningless name that He had given Himself. He wanted to be able to describe this One who was leading them.
God’s response may, at first glance, seem odd. He is Yahweh…“I am who I am.” (v. 14) Hmmm…what was He saying? Let’s move beyond the oddness and consider the implications.
- He is self-existent. God is not the result of anything or anyone else. He is the first-cause.
- He is eternal. There has never been, nor will there be, a time when God was/is not.
- He is immutable. Unlike humanity, God has not changed, matured, or aged with any of the negative implications of growing old. He is not a washed up “has been,” a budding star, or a power in the making.
- He is faithful. Verse 15 closely links this name with the fact that He is “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” He is the same One, who faithfully called, extended promises to, and led His people in the past.
The name “I am” conveys all of those things and more. That name, “Yahweh,” was considered to be a sacred name for God that Israelites were reluctant to even utter. Will you allow it to grow the deep respect you have for Him?