“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’”Exodus 3:14
It’s safe to assume that we’re all familiar with the story of the burning bush found in Exodus. Many of us may have heard of it for the first time while sitting around a felt board in our preschool Sunday School class. There we probably discussed the basics of how although the bush burned, it did not burn away. Or we may also remember the scene in the classic 1956 film The Ten Commandments with actor Charlton Heston portraying Moses as he talks with God. Albeit the special effects of the time make the scene to be more of a glowing bush rather than a burning bush. Regardless, the Bible tells us that Moses conversed with God on Mount Horeb and received the direction to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. There Moses asked God what he is to tell the Israelites if they ask the name of who sent Moses to them. God’s response to Moses is a direct, yet profound two-part answer of the question and is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.
First, God prefaces by telling Moses a descriptor, “I AM WHO I AM.” In other words, God’s existence is not dependent on anything or anyone else. God is not reliant on the Israelites He is asking Moses to liberate from Egypt. Nor is God reliant on Moses to liberate the Israelites. Acts 17:25 reminds us that God is the giver of life, breath, and all things. God is not served by human hands, as though He needs anything from us. Instead, God simply is!
Second, God ultimately answers the question by directly telling Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” has sent him. The Hebrew translation of I AM is YAHWEH and is God’s relational name for His people. God tells Moses to tell the Israelites that He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Although God may not need the Israelites, it is important to recognize that God wants the Israelites. God is faithful and was keeping His covenant with the Israelites.
However, beyond the above fundamental points, Exodus 3:14 is also a favorite verse because of the connection to John 8:58. The Pharisees were demanding to know who Jesus is and had asked how He could have possibly seen Abraham. While arguing with the Pharisees, Jesus responded, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” In doing so, He explained that He is the same God that revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I find refuge in verses like these that remind me whether in times of a global pandemic from COVID-19 or other life circumstances, I can rely upon God and the salvation we have in Jesus.