Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 29 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Exodus 3 today, and our focus is on God’s personal name. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Cameroon, Africa, Maharashtra, India, Northwest United Kingdom, The Evansville, Indiana area (100 downloads), Dayton, Ohio and Seattle, Washington. Thanks for listening! Our goal this year is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!
Today we are in Exodus 3, and discussing Moses’ encounter with God in the Burning bush – one of the seminal Old Testament chapters. In this chapter, God shows His plan to deliver His people Israel from slavery in Egypt – and what a plan it is! Just so we know where we are – let’s read the last part of Exodus 2:
After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor, they cried out, and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God. 24 God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the Israelites, and God knew. Exodus 2:23-24
So – God’s people are in slavery, and God’s man – Moses – has a speech impediment – is guilty of manslaughter in the death of an Egyptian (who had been abusing an Israeli) and Moses has been exiled way away from His people, living among the Midianites – a nation that did not know God at all. The people of Israel are under great oppression, and they cry out for help, and God goes to an exiled sheep-herder with a confidence problem named Moses, who is living quite far away, and calls him to go and be a part of the rescue mission of God’s people. To top it all off – God appears to Moses in a bush that is on fire and not burning up. This whole story is so strange – so other – fascinating how God delivered His people in the Exodus, and how He delivered them on the cross.
In the midst of this appearance, God has a conversation with Moses, and reveals to Moses God’s own personal name. Let’s read the passage, and then spend some time discussing God’s name.
Here are our verses of the day – God answering Moses’ question as to what His name is:
14 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.” 15 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 3:14-15
This is a little bewildering to us – a very strange name, Yahweh – what does it mean? As Dr. James M. Boice notes:
Yahweh means “I AM THAT I AM.” It speaks of God’s self-existence, self-sufficiency and eternity; it is also characteristically used in God’s revelations of himself as redeemer, for example, to Moses before God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt.
James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive & Readable Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 232.
How significant is this conversation, and what does God’s name mean to us? I’ll close with an answer to that question from Dr. John Frame:
Understandably, Moses is overwhelmed by this responsibility. God assures him that he will be successful. God will deliver Israel, and they will worship God on this very mountain, the mountain of the burning bush. But Moses has another question: “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?” (Ex. 3:13).
It seems like an odd question to us. What is God’s name? Why would Moses ask something like that? Today, we give our kids names like Billy or Susie without much thought of the meaning of those names. You might call your daughter Elizabeth because you think the name sounds good or because it was your grandmother’s name. But in the ancient Near East, names had meaning. Abram meant “high father,” and Abram’s new name, Abraham, given him by God, meant “father of a multitude.” Usually, when a father gave a name to his son, he chose a name that didn’t just sound good but conveyed something of his hopes for the child, or his feelings about the child, or the circumstances of the child’s birth. So, to ask about God’s name is to seek information about him. To seek God’s name is to ask what kind of God he is.
We should be interested in God’s answer to Moses’ question. How does God identify himself? How does God say who he is to the author of the first books of the Bible? We wait with bated breath, on the edge of our seats, to hear God’s name.
God’s name is, at first, rather bewildering. “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” ’ ” (Ex. 3:14). God here gives his name in a long form, “I AM WHO I AM,” and in a short form, simply “I AM.” The long form is difficult Hebrew. It can be translated in present or future tenses, and the relative pronoun translated “who” in the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV hereafter) can be translated in a variety of other ways as well. I can’t explore all these translations here, but the main point is that God’s answer to Moses is mysterious, to say the least. Even the short form of the name, “I AM,” is difficult. It is a familiar phrase, as when one says “I am John” or “I am a teacher.” But what can be meant by “I AM” just by itself?
It will help us, however, to go on to verse 15: “God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “The LORD, 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, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” ’ ” Here we see the mysterious name in still a third form. We’ve seen it in a long form, a short form, and now a very short form
John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 5–6.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
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