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Moses said to God, “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?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)
When God met Moses at the burning bush and told him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go free, Moses asked God the above question – basically, “what is your name?” God’s reply is the Hebrew name YHWH, which English translators at one time pronounced “Jehovah” but now pronounce “Yahweh.” The rough translation, as the NIV puts it, is “I am who I am.” Or, “I am pure existence.”
One of my seminary professors, Gary Parrett, reflected upon that name with these words, which have stuck with me: “God is saying to Moses, in effect, ‘I am not who you may think I am, or who you may wish that I am; I am who I am, and you need to adjust your thinking accordingly.”
Let me pause while you adjust your thinking…
God is who He is, and you need to adjust your thinking accordingly. He is not who you may think He is, or who you may wish that He would be. God is the eternally existent one, the beginning and the end, the creator and definer of all that is. He decides what is right and what is wrong. He decides who lives and who dies. “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
Certainly in our postmodern, relativistic world, this declaration offends the sensibilities. We live in a world of constructed reality, where the almighty YOU gets to decide what you want to believe and what you want to do, what you think is right and what you think is wrong. But God declares that He is the Almighty one and we are not; He is the one who alone has the proper perspective on the world, not us. His name – “I am who I am” – is a declaration not only of His ultimate right to decide, but also of our place as created beings who can either submit to or rebel against God’s truth.
You may already be a Christian, declaring that Jesus is Lord of all, but this reminder is a daily necessity. God is God and you are not. You may feel offended by something God declares in His Word, or you may rail against what He chooses to allow in your life, but remember: God is who He is. He is the eternal, unchanging, holy, loving, good, and gracious God. He loves you so much that His Son died for you while you were a rebel against His truth. And He alone has the proper perspective on the world.
So adjust your thinking accordingly.
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