Monday, April 1, 2013

Moses Asks - Who should I say sent me.

Rainbow


God says to Moses: ... The Israelites’ cry for help has come to Me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. Therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He answered, “I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain.”

Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?”

God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, 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; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation. Exodus 3:9-15
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Several of my previous blogs, have emphasized the importance of Names and Naming in the Bible. Once again this becomes, in part, the subject of a blog. At the young age of eighty, God comes to Moses and tell him that he has been chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses is reluctant to do this task. Moses does not believe he is capable of this huge task. He asks God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and do this?" God tells Moses that He will with him. Being with him stresses that God's power will enables the person called to carry out his calling. God promises to be present with His people. God says, once you have led them out of Egypt, all the Israelites will worship Me.

Moses asks God, "When I go to the Israelites and tell them that their God will lead them safely out of Egypt, who should I say sent me. What will I tell them when they ask me Your name?" God replies to Moses: I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, 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; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.

The question Moses asks of God is a natural question.  Moses could not be sure that the children of Israel would accept him. His background of being raised as an Egyptian could be seen as both a benefit and a curse. Moses was also guilty of the murder of an Egyptian. Because of this, the Israelites might fear that Moses would be the worst possible person to convince Pharaoh to allow them to leave Egypt.  It is likely, however, that Moses was the one who needed assurance that this was the God of his fathers that was speaking to him.  Moses wonders how he was to explain all this information to his people. The Israelites were living in a pagan nation. The Egyptians and their surrounding neighbors worshiped may Gods. These cultures were both polytheistic and pantheistic. Moses wanted to know, "Who should I say sent me? What is Your Name?"

God answers Moses with the statement — I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” The first statement is transliterated in Hebrew as ehyeh asher ehyeh, which in English means I am who I am. The Hebrew pronunciation is eh YEH ah SHEHR eh YEH. This name, I AM WHO I AM emphasizes Gods sovereign freedom to be what He chooses to be.

Moses is then told by God to tell his fellow Israelites that ehyeh, I Am, has sent me. *Some scholars say the name I AM comes from the Hebrew four letter word (tetragram) YHWH.   To avoid taking the name of God in vain, the word would not be spoken. To pronounce this holy name, the Jews used the vowels from the name Adonai (Lord) and turned YHWH into Yahweh (LORD in our English translations).  **Others think that Yahweh seems to be an ancient form of the third person form of to be. When His people refer to him as Yahweh, which is the third person masculine singular form of the same verb, ehyeh, they say "He Is." The idea expressed means that God is not bound by time. While God is present, "I Am," He will always be present, even in the future. Therefore He is always "I Am." Therefore God, Yahweh, is sovereignly independent of all His creation. God presence guarantees the fulfillment of His covenant with His people.

The word “God” is not a name. Was the name Yahweh new to Israel?  It is possible that Israel did not always need a name for God. They were convinced that there was only one God and there was no other God. A name for God would not then have been necessary.  However, it is probably not correct to assume that Israel had a nameless God, or that they did not know the name of their God.  In Genesis 4:26 and Genesis 12:8  we read that the people were making proclamation of the name of Yahweh.  If Moses had given the people of Israel another name of God other that Yahweh, they would have been quite concerned.  The Israelites had been crying out to Yahweh for deliverance for many years.

The name of God may or may not have been a new revelation to Israel.  The actual source of the name given to them by God may not be known.  One thing is sure the name conveys the concept of an absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf.  I AM, conveys the meanings of I am who and what I am, and I do not change. I am here with you and for you.  I Am always here and always was. God is the absolute I AM.   God is supreme.  He is Creator, Author, and Sustainer of All. He is eternal.  He is sovereign. He is omnipotent,  omniscient, and omnipresent.   The is only one God - He is the I AM.  Do You know Him?   Is He your God?

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*Wiersbe, Warren W. (2011-01-01). Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ
** NET Bible notes - first edition

We will continue along the same subject of names over the next several blogs.

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