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Exodus 3:14

What is Your Name?

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob revealed Himself to Moses in the wilderness at the burning bush.

The LORD God (Yahweh) spoke to Moses and said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, . . Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7-8, 10).  

Moses reaction was, "Lord, I tried once and I failed. Send someone else." Moses was timid, hesitant, fearful, unbelieving, and rebellious and yet God used him.

It was while Moses was putting up his arguments with God for not obeying Him that God revealed who He is in His personal name. God's chosen people were living with Egyptians who were the most polytheistic race of antiquity. We have records containing the names of more than 2200 different Egyptian gods and goddesses whom they worshipped. The people of Israel had become addicted to these gods. The ten plagues would be a contest of the gods of Egypt and the LORD God. Therefore, Moses asked God, "Which God shall I tell them sent me?" What is Your name? (3:13).

 I AM WHO I AM

God replied to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" (v. 14).

This is the most solemn and sublime of all the divine names. Various expressions are used to distinguish Him such as "the Name," "the great and terrible Name," "the unutterable Name," "the ineffable Name," "the peculiar name," "the in communicate Name," "the Holy Name," "the separate Name," "the distinguished Name." All of these expressions are attempts to communicate the Tetragrammaton YHWH or JHVH (Yahweh or Jehovah). It is a substitute for the ineffable name of God. It was also known as "the name of four letters" because from the Hebrew it is transliterated JHVH into English.

The original pronunciation has long been lost because of superstition among the Jewish people. It was an attempt at misguided reverence. Jehovah is an artificial English word put together from the four Hebrew consonants JHVH and the vowels of the Hebrew word for God Aonai, or Lord. Before the coming of Jesus Christ the Jewish people would pronounce Adonai when they read JHVH. Later the vowels of Adonai were written into the manuscripts. In modern times we have been saying Jehovah or LORD (in small capital letters). The original pronunciation was probably Yahweh.

Girdleston in his Old Testament Synonyms writes, "It is everywhere a proper name denoting the person of God and Him only . . . The Hebrew may say the Elohim, the true God, in opposition to all false gods; but he never says the Jehovah, for Jehovah is the name of the true God only. He says again and again, my God or my Elohim, but never my Jehovah, for when he says my God he means Jehovah. He speaks of the God (Elohim) of Israel, but never of the Jehovah of Israel, for there is no other Jehovah. He speaks of the living God, but never of the living Jehovah, for he cannot conceive of Jehovah as other than living."

JHVH is a Hebrew term that is not brought forward into the New Testament because the New Testament was written in Greek. The equivalent term for JHVH in Greek is Kurios, Lord. It is applied to all three persons of the Trinity. It is justifiable to treat the name JHVH of the Hebrew Scriptures as continued in its specific meaning into the New Testament by the name Lord or Kurios. It is applicable in this sense to none but deity.

Over the past fifty years, I have pulled together from many highly respected scholars information for the following paragraph. It is a humble attempt to try to understand the Infinite. It is impossible, of course. Only as we look into the face of Jesus do we understand the LORD God.

"I AM THAT I AM" contains each tense of the verb "to be." We can translate it "I was, I am, I shall always continue to be." He is the eternal "I AM." He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He announced that Elohim is self-existent, beside whom there is none else. He is without beginning, without ending from everlasting to everlasting He is. Yahweh is the Absolute I. Acting with self-dependence, the Absolute God of the fathers; He is the divine Being moving, pervading history, manifesting Himself in the world. He is the self-determining One, Absolute independence, in harmony with Himself, remaining consistent, the absolute I, moving with unlimited freedom. He is the Absolute personality. He is the personal God in His historic manifestation unfolding (revealing) Himself. He is the God of redemption. By this name He is eternal, uncaused, unconditioned, independent and self-sufficient. As the God of grace He becomes whatever is needed to meet the needs of those who are His. He is "the Becoming One." There is the promise of continuing self-manifestation in His name, "I will be that I will be." (I told you it was impossible!)

Jesus is the great I AM

The Pharisees were accusing Jesus of blasphemy because He was forgiving sins. Only God can forgive sins. Their complaint was who are you to do only what God can do? (John chapter eight).

In response to their accusations Jesus said, "Before Abraham was born, I AM" (John 8:58). They knew exactly what He meant. There wasn't any question in their minds because they picked up stone to stone Him to death (v. 59). Jesus Christ names Himself the "I AM." They understood Him to be claiming identity with the God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush.

In assuming the name "I AM" Jesus was assuming to Himself the attributes and authorities of the LORD God of Israel. Jesus assumed the name of Yahweh, or Jehovah. Jesus Christ is Yahweh and Yahweh is Jesus. Jesus was assuming the holiest word for absolute deity in the Hebrew language. He is a person in the Trinity. On another occasion Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." The response: "The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him" (John 10:30-31).

Jesus used the "I am" formula to communicate the essential attributes of the LORD God. In each saying below Jesus placed the "I am" is in the emphatic position. It is God speaking when Jesus says:

The personal God who cuts the covenant in the Old Testament is the same person as Jesus, the Messiah in the New Testament. Our Savior is God's last word to man. When you reject Jesus Christ you reject the only one and true God and Savior.

This is why He can say to the woman caught in adultery and to every other person trapped in sin, "Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you: go your way; from now on sin no more." He is ready to forgive you and me right now. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). There is no other name to call upon. "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

C. S. Lewis made this observation:

“Either Jesus Christ was what He claimed or He was a liar, and we should repudiate Him. Or if He was not what He claimed to be, and not a liar, He was a madman and we should treat Him as such. Or He was what He claimed to be and we should worship Him."

Those were the only options He gave us. The ultimate question is always, "What will you do with Jesus?" The apostle Paul gave the best invitation. He wrote, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9, 10).

What you choose to do with Jesus Christ determines your eternal destiny. He is who He claimed to me. He loved you so much that He chose to come and die in your place to pay your sin debt to the righteousness of God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).  

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Title:  Exodus 3:14 What is Your Name?
Series:  Christ in the Old Testament

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2007. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

Unless otherwise noted “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey College, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.

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