Exodus 3:13-14. 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Yesterday we saw Genesis end on a high note of hope. Joseph is restored to his family, the world is saved, and all evil turns out for good. Cue the music, roll the credits.
But between Genesis and Exodus there’s a 400 year gap where all the good seems to have turned to evil again. A new Pharaoh has turned all the Hebrews into his slaves in Egypt. Moses, the great Hebrew liberator, is on the run in the wilderness. And God seems suddenly very silent and very absent.
But God has been waiting for just this right moment to reveal himself. The creator of all things, the star breather, the galaxy weaver, is now present in front of Moses in a burning bush. God calls out to Moses but warns him not to come too close. The ground is holy. “I have seen the affliction of my people,” he says. “I have heard their cries.” “I have come down to deliver them.” Then God says to Moses personally, “I will send you to Pharaoh,” and “I will be with you.”
This amazing encounter with God reveals who our God is. Both his nature and his name. God is both transcendent and imminent. Beyond us and yet close to us. “Don’t come near me,” but also “I will be with you.” A burning flame, yet a flame that does not consume the bush. Destroying and yet purifying. Holy and yet merciful.
God’s character is also revealed in his name. God’s name?
Yes, God has a personal name. Moses knows he can’t go to Pharaoh without the unique name of God. To know a god’s name is to have his power. Without a name, there’s no chance Pharaoh listens to Moses. So Moses asks and God tells him his name – Ehyeh. I am. Or I will be. Or I will be who I will be.
God is the I am. He is defined by what he does. Unchanging. Constant. The only self-determining and self-existent being in the universe. He is beyond time and space. Transcendent.
And God is also the I will be. As in I will be with you.
Exodus 3:11-12. 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you…
But the burning bush is just a picture of God’s truest expression of his character and nature – Jesus Christ. Jesus is the transcendent one who became imminent for us. The one who is far beyond us will be beside us. The I am who became I will be with you.
I am the light of the world. I will be with you in the darkness.
I am the bread of life. I will be with you in your hunger.
I am the gate. I will be with you to protect you.
I am the good shepherd. I will be with you wherever you go.
I am the way. I will be with you to guide you.
I am the resurrection and the life. I will be with you even in death.
The one who is totally apart from us, the creator of all things, the all sufficient one, the one who exists without need and without deficiency, Ehyeh, the I am, he has come to us as one of us to live in us. His transcendence made imminent. His all sufficient life and love made receivable.
Now, like the bush, we burn with God’s holy presence without being consumed. How? Because “to live is Christ” is to have the imminent love and grace of God protecting our hearts as we are filled with the transcendent burning power of his goodness, justice, and righteousness. God says “I will be with you” so that we may go to “Pharaoh,” taking the light of Hope to a dark world.
Which I Am statement by Jesus above do you need today?
You in Christ
In Christ you have all of God’s holiness and purity and all of his love and mercy. How does this encourage you today?
Christ in you
How can you be a burning bush for Christ at your work or home?
Playlist: I Am
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