What We Can Learn From “I AM WHO I AM”

While studying Exodus 3:14, I came across some interesting online comments from Jewish orthodoxy on the meaning of the name God gave to himself in his conversation with Moses.

In Hebrew, “I AM WHO I AM” basically means “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” Interestingly, a close examination of Exodus 3:14 has God giving his full name to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”  Yet the latter part of Exodus 3:14 also has God telling Moses that when he gives God’s name to the people of Israel, to only give the first part of the name, “I AM,” “I WILL BE.”  (“And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”)

According to the Jewish Talmud, “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE” as used in Exodus 3:14 is basically God telling the Jews who were trapped in Egyptian slavery, “I will be a Savior to you now, and I will be a Savior to you in the future.”  Accordingly, by telling Moses to give Israel just the first part of the name (“I AM,” “I WILL BE”), God is basically telling Moses to tell Israel, “I will be a Savior to you now.”  Yet by giving Moses his full name privately (“I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE”), God is telling Moses that he not only will be Israel’s Savior now in saving them from slavery, but he will continue to be their Savior afterwards.  In other words, he is telling Moses to tell Israel, “I will be for you now what I will be for you in the future.”

Furthermore, by then telling Moses in Exodus 3:15 to tell Israel, “This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations,” God is basically giving Israel insight into the fact that their problems will not cease after they are delivered from slavery.  New problems in the future will arise, and guess what?  God “WILL BE WHAT (HE) WILL BE.”  In other words, God is telling Israel, “I will be your Savior now concerning your problem of slavery, but you will have other problems and trials that will come up after this…and I will be your Savior for those problems too.”  Jesus would put it this way, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).  As God would say to Joshua and as the Hebrew author would later quote, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5).

So when you are in a dark period, don’t just remember that God will be there for you in the future.  God told Moses to tell Israel initially that God is simply “I AM,” “I WILL BE,” “I will be your Savior now.”  So don’t just focus on how God will be there for you in the future for future trials.  When you’re going through a hardship, focus right then and there on the fact that God is there for you right now, “I will be your Savior now.”

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