“I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” —Exodus 3:14
Within a matter of moments, Moses saw his 40-year career as a shepherd coming to a close. He did not really want to fulfill God’s instruction to return to Egypt to free the Israelites from their slavery. God assured Moses that He would be with him, but Moses, reluctant to go, then asked, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13). In other words, “Who are You really, and how will Your going with me give me or my people comfort?”
God responds with “I AM WHO I AM,” a name that sounds uncooperative but is incredibly telling. There are three tenses, but we only live in one of them. We remember the past and anticipate the future, but we live in the present. God did not say, “I was at the burning bush. So, Moses, remember your calling and commission to keep you going when things get difficult.” Nor did He say, “I will be in Canaan, waiting to pat you on the back when you finally arrive.” The name God gives is “I AM,” and His name is His promise to us.
Biblical scholar Alec Motyer wrote a commentary on the book of Exodus in which he states, “I AM is an open-ended assertion of divine sufficiency… An understanding of this name of God means that no matter how much of Himself the Lord is now revealing to Moses, there will always be more. You cannot exhaust this name. There always remains an abundance yet to be explored and experienced. There is no way that emergency needs or ever-changing circumstances and demands can catch Him out and prove Him inadequate or reach the end of His resources.” The name “I AM” means that God is inexhaustible, always present, always sufficient, always trustworthy and always available.
Moses’s question exposes the vital fact he did not know about relationship with God. Writer and teacher, Major Ian Thomas, wrote, “All that God is, you have. You cannot have more, and you don’t need to experience less.” Many people remain on the periphery of Christian experience because they are content with information, but God’s name has to become experiential for it to become meaningful. The basic principle of Christian living and service is that we cannot do it, and God never said we could, but He can...and He will! God does not reveal His name as an academic exercise, but as the key to experiencing Him as the ever-present, ever-faithful “I AM.”
PRAYER: Gracious God, You are the great I AM, and I thank You for the promise that comes with Your name. Thank You that I can always trust and depend on You because of who You are.