Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘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, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt.
Naming has great importance in the Bible. In the garden of Eden, the giving of names demonstrates lordship over the creation (Gen. 1:26–27; Gen.2:19, 23; Gen. 3:20) and can often relate to hopes (Gen. 4:1), memories (Gen. 35:18), or prophecies (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:21). In naming, one’s character is revealed.
Moses’ question is therefore supremely important: what is the name, the character, of this God of whom I will speak? God’s response seems enigmatic. But notice how the revelation of God’s name builds: “I am who I am” (Ex. 3:14a); “Say this . . . , ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14b); “Say this . . . , ‘The Lord [I am], the God of your fathers’” (Ex. 3:15, 16). In other words, this living, personal God who revealed himself to Abraham and made covenant with him is the God who is moving to deliver his people now.
All of this makes Jesus’ own use of this divine name significant as well, not only in the seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John (John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:9, 11; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1), but especially his declaration to the Pharisees that “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). In saying this, Jesus was claiming to be the same living, personal God who made covenant with Abraham, the same God who revealed himself to Moses, and the one who was now moving to deliver his people.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.