–By Elizabeth Ahlman
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.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14 ESV).
God reveals Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” or, in Hebrew, Yahweh. But, Who, really, is this “I AM?” As we Lutherans like to say, “What does this mean?” Or better yet, as in the original German language of the Small Catechism: “What is this?” (Was ist das?) What is this name that is a descriptor, a claim, an assertion? What is this God Who names Himself as such?
Well, Yahweh (I AM) gives Moses a hint both before and after He reveals His name. This God is a God who was present from the beginning, THE God — “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6 ESV). This is the God Who called Abram out of idolatry and sin into a new land and a new life. This is the God Who took the barren Sarah and brought forth the laughter of Isaac. This is the God Who took the cheating Jacob and made Him the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. This is a God who holds the past in His hands and has brought everything to this moment.
And this is a God of the present. The “I AM” who takes for Himself a people of His own choosing and who looks on His people’s affliction and moves in time to save them.
Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7-10 ESV).
This is Yahweh, the Lord, Who sends a servant, Moses, to rescue His people enslaved in Egypt with His very name as gift upon Moses’ lips to be given to all the children of Israel.
And this is Yahweh, Lord, who holds the future in His hands. This is Yahweh, Lord, who sends THE Servant, His one and only Son, to rescue His people of all time and all eternity from their enslavement to sin, death and the devil. This is Yahweh, Lord, Who affirms the work of His Son on the Mount of Transfiguration. This is Yahweh, Who sends that beloved Son to the cross because He has seen the afflicted state of all of humanity and moves to save them by putting to death that very beloved Son.
This is the I AM who speaks through His servants today to place His very name upon a people of His own choosing through Holy Baptism. This Yahweh is Father, Son and Holy Spirit for me and for you. He brings us out of slavery into the Land He has prepared for us.
Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You that You have revealed Your gracious Self to us in the person of Your Son, Jesus Christ and have placed Your name upon us in our Baptisms; keep us in our Baptisms and teach us to know You as our gracious Lord until we finally see You face to face; in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.