We’ve begun looking at the names of God and how his names help us understand him better. We’ve seen that God is called ‘The Father’, ‘The Son’ and ‘The Holy Spirit’ and unpacked what those names teach us. We’ve also looked at what we can learn from the word ‘God’. This week I want to look at the name ‘I AM’.
When Moses spoke with God at the burning bush, he asked for God’s name so he could tell his fellow Israelites who had sent him. We read this reply: ‘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.’ “God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers– the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob– has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers-the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob– appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt”’ (Exodus 3:14-16).
God gives his name as ‘I AM’. This name is connected with the name that is transliterated into English as YHWH. It is given in the verses above right after God says he is ‘I AM’ and is translated in the NIV English translation as ‘LORD’. In other translations, it may be translated as Jehovah or Yahweh (the correct pronunciation is uncertain as the Jews stopped pronouncing the name out of respect for God).
The New Bible Dictionary says that strictly speaking YHWH is the only ‘name’ of God and Exodus 3:15 tells us it is his name forever. There are many gods, but there is only one YHWH.
So what does this name, YHWH, tell us about God?
Well, as I said earlier, you can see the connection between YHWH and the name ‘I AM’ in Exodus 3. There is also similarity between the spelling of YHWH and the Hebrew word ‘to be’. Therefore, this name for God tells us quite a number of things.
Firstly, if God is ‘I AM’, God exists. The Psalmist writes: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”’ (Psalm 14:1). But God says to the fool, ‘I AM’. Even his name declares that he exists!
Secondly, if God is ‘I AM’, God is self-sufficient (we call this God’s aseity). All things are dependent. I need oxygen every moment of the day. Our pet birds need seeds from plants. The plants need sunlight. The sun needs flammable gases. Everything is dependent. And the Bible tells us that ultimately all of creation is dependent upon God: ‘For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.’ (Colossians 1:16-17). Everyone and everything is dependent. Except God. He is ‘I AM’.
Thirdly, if God is ‘I AM’, he will always exist. There is no time when he will not ‘be’. He cannot die. He exists. Always.
So do you rejoice in the fact that your God is ‘I AM’. He exists. He is independent. He always will be. What security and peace we have in knowing that such a God loves us and always will!