I AM who I AM
Oprah. Sting. Madonna. Beyonce. Cher. They say you’ve really made it as s celebrity when you only have to use one name. Frankly, I just find it conceited and pompous.
Today, names are just a moniker, with little meaning attached to them. Not so among the ancient Hebrews. For example, the original word that we now pronounce “Jesus” was “Yeshua” in ancient Hebrew and means “Yahweh delivers,” a meaning that would not be lost on Jesus’ contemporaries.
So it was not lightly that when Moses was receiving instruction to go to Pharoah, he asked for the name of the one sending him. Rather than being told not to worry about it, or just to do what he was told, God actually gave Himself a name — a name full of meaning because it has no single meaning: “I AM Who I AM . . . ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.” Or in the Hebrew, “Yahweh.”
In the flow of the Old Testament and the self-understanding of the Jewish people, this is a pivotal moment. This is when we begin to see clearly that there is one, all encompassing God. No longer will there be the God of the Hebrews, the gods of the Egyptians, etc. There is one God who is God over all.
No longer are we to be subject to various gods of our own choosing. There is no choosing. There is one God, who is God. Our response is not to choose, but to submit to Him.
As a pastor, I am sometimes asked if we Christians worship the same God as, say, the Muslims, or other religions. There is only one God. There is not a Christian God and a Muslim God and a Hindu God (well, gods, properly speaking). The question would be more helpful if we asked whose understanding of God is closest to the one, true God. None of us has it completely right as we are hindered by sin and our limited ability to perceive God which should cause us to answer the question with some humility. Nonetheless, I have no qualms about declaring that God is most fully and and truly revealed in the Christian understanding. He is the I AM.
No doubt, Moses did not at first grasp the significance of the name. I’m guessing his initial response was more like, “Well, OK. If that’s really what you want me to tell them . . .” It was only as he obeyed and began to take the steps “I AM” called him to take that he began to believe.
Do you wonder if you can really believe? Can you really have confidence that this God we proclaim is, indeed, the true God? Take the steps. Step out in trust and you will find Him trustworthy. Moses did. Peter did. Paul did. And so can we. Step out in faith, and you will find Him to be, indeed, the “I AM” of your life!
Fr. Eric Turner
Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.