The God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob revealed Himself
to Moses in the wilderness at the burning bush.
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).
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).
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 incommunicate 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.
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.
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
forty 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.
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!)
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).
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.
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
the "I am" formula to communicate the essential attributes
of the LORD God. In each saying below Jesus places the "I
am" is in the emphatic position. It is God speaking when
I am the
bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who
believes in Me will never thirst (John 6:35).
I am the
Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness,
but will have the Light of life (John 8:12).
I am the
door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will
go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9).
I am the
good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the
sheep (John 10:11).
I am the
resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even
if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never
die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26).
I am the
way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father
but through Me (John 14:6).
I am the
true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser (John 15:1).
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:
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."
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).