This week in Living on the Rock, we are discussing the primary name of God: YAHWEH. I am that I am, the name by which God introduced Himself to Moses and Israel.
In Exodus 3, God shows up in a burning bush and introduces Himself to Moses as Yahweh, I AM THAT I AM. In this introduction Yahweh says (3 x in Exodus 3) “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” He places Himself squarely in Israel’s history.
This is the God who made Israel a tribe and a people. And He is now intervening directly in their history.
In this first introduction of Yahweh to His people through Moses (Exodus 3), we learn several things about Yahweh:
- He sees, gives heed to, is aware of their affliction.
- He responds to their affliction by coming down to deliver them.
- He hears their cries.
- He promises to be WITH them (Moses in this part of the story, but the promise is extended to all of the people later.)
- He has come DOWN to bring His people UP from affliction and slavery.
All of this would have been called to the Jewish mind in the name YAHWEH, as well as what follows this story:
- Yahweh delivers Israel from Egypt, through the Red Sea on dry land, and leads them over 40 years in the wilderness, until delivering them into the promised land.
In the Jewish mind, the name Yahweh would have brought with it deliverance, presence, a God who intervenes on behalf of His people.
A God who comes DOWN to bring them UP out of slavery.
In John 8, a group of Jewish leaders who are trying to trap Him bring up Abraham. Jesus responds “Before Abraham was born, I AM…” The Jewish leaders recognized this as a claim of being Yahweh – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Yahweh. And they pick up stones to kill him for blasphemy, as the law required.
But we know that Jesus WAS Yahweh, God come DOWN to bring His people UP out of slavery to sin and self.
Yahweh is a uniquely Hebrew name for God, a name grounded in the history of Israel. But in Jesus, we are included in that history. Yahweh is God of our fathers as well.
Galatians 3 tells us
Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
As Gentile Believers in Jesus, what are the promises for us in this very Hebrew name of God, Yahweh, the Great I Am?
- Jesus came down to bring us UP – not just to heaven when we die, but here and now, we can find freedom from slavery and bondage.
- Just as Yahweh called Abraham and made his descendants a tribe and a people, Jesus has also made us a tribe and a people. And just like Abraham, we are blessed in order to be a blessing – We are chosen and blessed so that we can BE a blessing to the nations, to the peoples.
- More personally… You have a God who SEES. When you cry out to Him, He gives heed – He listens, He pays attention, He is aware.
- He is concerned about you. In the places where you feel invisible, unseen, like your suffering and pain are not noticed, HE NOTICES.
This is our God – His name is Yahweh, I AM.
I love this name for 2 major reasons:
This name is a VERB. Yahweh is a God who acts. He intervenes, He delivers, He is involved in the lives of His people. He is an active, acting God. He may not always act in the way I want Him to, or WHEN I want Him to…but He is an active God, He is involved in the lives of His people. SO MUCH PEACE.
This name is present tense. God is and was and is to come – all of the tenses of TO BE. But Yahweh, I AM is present tense. I find him NOW. In this moment. For too long the people of God have acted like our hope is mostly in our TOMORROW. But our God is the God of I AM. In this moment, if I look for Him, I can find Him.
He is WITH me now, in my I AM moment.
- I am not enough. HE IS enough.
- I am worried and anxious. HE IS with me.
- I am overwhelmed. HE IS strong, HE IS able, HE IS good.
In this present moment, He is enough, He is with me in my now, He is strong, able and good.
What does this mean for us?
Since God is YAHWEH, the GREAT I AM…. I live in His presence. He is present to me, in my NOW.
I can have peace. I am not alone.
I can wait for His deliverance, and like Israel in the desert, I can follow His lead.
I can cry out to Him and know that He hears me. My pain and sorrow are not too much for Him.
God first introduced Himself as Yahweh out of the burning bush – showing Himself in the creation, in the midst of Moses’ daily life.
And I can be watching for burning bush moments. I can notice God’s presence in the world around me. I can be ready to respond in my now, in my I AM moments.