5 Mar. Exodus 3:11-20

5 Mar. God reveals his personal name to Moses

“But Moses said to God, ‘I am not a great man! How can I go to the king and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?’”

“God said, ‘I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: after you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain.’”

“Moses said to God, ‘When I go to the Israelites, I will say to them, "The God of your fathers sent me to you." What if the people say, “What is his name?” What should I tell them?’”

“Then God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. When you go to the people of Israel, tell them, "I AM sent me to you."'"

“God also said to Moses, ‘This is what you should tell the people: The LORD is the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He sent me to you. This will always be my name, by which people from now on will know me.’”

“’Go and gather the elders and tell them this: The LORD, the God of your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me. He said, I care about you, and I have seen what has happened in Egypt. I promised I would take you out of your troubles in Egypt. I will lead you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – a fertile land.’”

“’The elders will listen to you. And then you and the elders of Israel will go to the king of Egypt and tell him, “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, appeared to us. Let us travel three days into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.”’”

“’But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go. Only a great power will force him to let you go, so I will use my great power against Egypt. I will strike Egypt with all the miracles that will happen in that land. After I do that, he will let you go.’”

          (Exodus 3:11-20)



God spoke to Moses from a burning bush on Mt Sinai and called him to rescue his people from Egypt and lead them back to Canaan, the land he promised to Abraham and his descendants (see Genesis 12:1-3).

God told Moses, “after you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12).

Moses asked God what he should tell the people if they asked on whose authority he had been sent. God said, “I AM WHO I AM ... tell them, I AM sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14).

This is the first time the Bible records that God revealed his personal name: “I AM WHO I AM.” The original Hebrew text reads “YHWH” which is often pronounced “YAHWEH” (or translated into English as “Jehovah”). The Israelites, however, considered God’s personal name too holy to speak out, so the Hebrew name “YHWH” (which appears over 6,000 times in the Old Testament) was replaced by the word “Adonai” meaning “Lord”.

In most English translations, the Hebrew word “YHWH” (“I AM”) is therefore translated as “LORD” in CAPITAL letters. It means that God is always present; he is always with his people.

In the New Testament, Jesus was teaching one day in the Temple courts and was challenged by the Pharisees when he claimed to be “the light of the world.” (John 8:12). Jesus warned the Pharisees they would “die in your sins if you don’t believe that I am he” (John 8:24).

The Pharisees were incensed as "I am" sounded like the Hebrew pronunciation of God’s personal name ‘YHWH’ (‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’, meaning ‘I am’, ‘I am he’ or ‘I am who I am’) which Jews were forbidden to speak out of reverence (see Exodus 3:14).

The Pharisees reminded Jesus that, as Jews, they were the heirs of Abraham’s covenant agreement with God (see Genesis 17:7). Jesus claimed that Abraham rejoiced at Jesus’s own coming. The Pharisees pointed out that Jesus was not yet fifty years old and responded, “You have never seen Abraham” (who died eighteen hundred years earlier). Jesus replied, “before Abraham was even born, I am!” (John 8:57-58).

The Pharisees were furious that Jesus had apparently used God’s personal name, I AM (YAHWEH), for himself, and they tried to stone him to death for what they believed was blasphemy (see Leviticus 24:16). But Jesus escaped from the Temple courts.

The photo (by Mohammed Moussa) shows the view from the summit of Mount Sinai.

You can read more about Moses’s encounter with God on Mt Sinai @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/25-the-israelites-journey-from-egypt-to-mt-sinai/moses-is-called-by-god-at-mt-sinai/

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