“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.” Ex. 3:13,14 (ESV)
In 1872, a work of art entitled “Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1” was almost rejected by the Royal Academy of Art in London because they thought the audience would not accept a mere “arrangement”. It was finally accepted with the additional title “Portrait of the Artist’s Mother”. The artist would later pawn the painting, which eventually was purchased by a museum in Paris. The painting came to be known as “Whistler’s Mother”, and is now one of the most famous works of an American artist. Names have a great deal of importance.
That’s why Moses asked God for His name. He knew that the descendants of Jacob would ask him and he wanted to have an answer for them.
God did give an answer, though the name was also a description. Various translations of the Hebrew are “I am what I am”, or “I will be what I will be”. This name came to be written with four Hebrew letters corresponding to YHWH, and is found in the Old Testament whenever the word LORD is spelled with capital letters. This is how the name Yahweh was derived.
When God stated His name as “I am what I am”, He was describing two of His divine characteristics. First of all, He was describing His omnipotence. God is who He is because that’s who He wants to be. As the all-powerful God, He can be whoever He wants to be. Our abilities in medicine are limited…there is only so much we can do. God is different…there is nothing He cannot do.
Secondly, this name speaks to the characteristic of God as eternal and unchanging. Who He is today is who He has been from eternity past and will continue to be throughout the rest of eternity future. The God we serve is an awesome God and worthy of our worship and praise.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you that while you are an awesome God, you have loved me from eternity past and control everything for your glory.