Saturday, February 20, 2010
The Great I AM
This passage is excerpted from Exodus 3:1-20 (NLT)
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro...He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am!” Moses replied.
“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of...Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers...I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land...Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
"Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. 17 I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey...”’
“The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then...go to the king of Egypt..."
This passage tells us how Moses encounters God in the burning bush. God announces His plans to have Moses lead the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt and into a wonderful land that God promises to them. Moses has no way of knowing just how large the task will be. That, of course, was just as well, because it willl take all the energy, wisdom, faith and strength Moses has. God has prepared him for just this task.
God also reveals His Name to Moses: "I AM WHO I AM."
The Exodus story is a glorious one, one our Jewish friends and neighbors have celebreated for generations. Just as God revealed great plans to bless Israel and lead them from bondage into freedom, God has revealed in Jesus Christ a wonederful plan to bless the whole world, and to lead all who will follow Him into a place of freedom. I believe that freedom begins in this life and has its ultimate fulfillment in eternity.
Here is Mark Schultz singing, "I Am."
In John 8:51-59, Jesus echoes those words and strongly implies his divinity when he tells the Jews that "before Abraham was made, I AM." This becomes part of the basis for the charge of blasphemy, a charge which would lead to his crucifixion.
Thank you, God, for revealing your plan to Moses, and for revealing yourself to him. Thank you for revealing yourself to us once again by sending your eternal Son, the great I AM...loving giver of life...savior. Amen