“I AM” God answers. “Tell them I AM has sent me to you.” You can imagine the look on Moses’ face. “I am what? I am who?”
I AM. That name might have served the purpose Moses wanted it to serve if Moses could have added a characteristic to it:
- I AM – a dreaded warrior.
- I AM – a shield and protector
- I AM – the one who always takes your side
- I AM – your deliverer
But God cuts that option off from Moses. “I AM – who I AM”. You, Moses, don’t get the power to characterize me, to hold me to being a certain way, to control me so that I fit your notions of what my character should be.
Let’s be honest for a second. We all have an agenda for God, don’t we?
- God’s job, we are sure, is to protect our family, our children, the way we want them protected.
- God’s job is to heal us the way we long to be healed.
- God’s job is to bless our finances, marriages, jobs, _________ (fill in the blank) the way we want them blessed.
When we call on God we expect Him to be on our leash – to come and do our bidding.
Yet, by this strange name God reveals to Moses, God will not allow anyone to attach him to a leash . “I am who I am. I will be who I will be. I will be who I am and I am who I will be. Tell them I AM sent you.”
Yet, as strange and mysterious as this name is, it proclaims powerfully good news to those slaves and to us. It proclaims that this God, whom we can never control, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and of Jacob. That may not seem to mean much to you and me, but look back at the stories of these heroes of our faith and their encounters with this God. This is the God who is faithful to promises made.
The God who goes with and guards fugitives like Jacob. The God who keeps hold of outsiders – migrants – like Joseph. The God who births babies to barren mothers like Sarah. “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob.” The ways God has been with his people in the past is truth about the way this God is in the present and will be in the future.
This name also proclaims that “God is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27). God is not locked away in the past. No, this God is here in the present and will be in the future. “I AM. I will be.”
There is no way Moses (nor you, I, the church or anyone else) can control this God we serve. There is no way we can define this God’s characteristics in a manner to serve our agenda. There is no way we can ever capture this God and put Him on a leash to do our bidding.
But because this God IS and WILL BE forever, the future is never is not closed. The future is always in God’s hands. The future was not closed for those slaves in Egypt. The future wasn’t closed for those women who came to the tomb on Easter morning. The future is not closed regardless of what is happening in our lives right now, in this world right now, and even within the Church right now – as dim as it all seems sometimes. For God continues to declare – “Tell them I AM- I WILL BE has sent me to you.”
This is God’s name forever!