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.’”
Genesis ends on a high note of hope, and grace, and love. 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 four hundred year gap where all the good seems to have evaporated and turned to evil again. A new Pharaoh has enslaved Joseph’s grandchildren. Moses, the hero of the book, is on the run in the wilderness. And God is 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 desert bush. God warns Moses that he is on holy ground. “I have seen the affliction of my people,” he says. “I have heard their cries.” “I have come down to deliver them.” Then God speaks to Moses and says, “I will send you to Pharaoh,” and “I will be with you.”
This amazing encounter with God reveals the dual nature of our God. 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.
And then Moses asks to know God’s 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 one and only I am. He alone is defined by what he does. Forever constant and unchanging. 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 glimpse of God’s fullest expression of his character and nature – Jesus Christ. Jesus is 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 to guide you.
I am the way. I will be with you always.
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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