The Great I Am

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bcoc burning bush webIn Exodus 3, we read the story of Moses and the burning bush. At this point in his life, Moses had been away from Egypt for approximately forty years. You may remember that Moses thrived in Egypt. He lived in the house of Pharaoh. He was raised among kings in a royal environment. He grew up as an Egyptian even though he shared the same ethnicity as those who were slaves. However, he eventually grew sympathetic toward his kinsmen, and, at one point, he killed an Egyptian who he witnessed abusing a Hebrew slave. As a result of his actions, Moses fled Egypt as a fugitive, knowing that his murderous deed was not as secretive as he initially assumed.

Now, forty years later, Moses encountered a bush that was burning without being consumed. Through this bush, God presented Himself to Moses and commissioned him to be the individual who would return to Egypt to rescue His people. But Moses was afraid. Offering excuse after excuse, Moses attempted to weasel out of God’s assignment. Moses’ initial response was, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Did you catch those first three words — “Who am I?” God called Moses to take on this special assignment. That means that God saw something in Moses that made him the perfect candidate for this mission. But all Moses could do was look at himself and see all of his inadequacies, all of his failures, all of his flaws, and all of his past mistakes. It is as if Moses was saying, “I’m nobody. I don’t matter. Do you know what I did in Egypt? Do you know why I left that place? Do you know what those Hebrew slaves really think of me?” All Moses could do was think of all the reasons he was not qualified. But notice God’s response. He said, “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:12). In other words, God said it did not matter who Moses was, where Moses had been, what Moses had done, why Moses left Egypt, or how unqualified Moses thought he was. All that mattered was that God was on his side.

Apparently, God’s promise to be with Moses was not good enough for Moses. He wanted proof. Moses’ great concern switched from “Who am I” to “Who are you.” This is evidenced by Moses’ next question, which centered around whether or not the Israelites would believe him. He said, in Exodus 3:13, “when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?” In other words, Moses did not just want God’s promise of support, which was guaranteed in the previous verse; he wanted proof of God’s identity. He wanted a means by which he could prove to the Israelites that he was not just making this mission up.

It was at this point in their interaction that God identified Himself. He told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM...Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:14). This was God’s opportunity to describe Himself, to define Himself, to identify Himself by whatever means He chose. This was the moment when He decided what He wanted man to call Him, and He chose, “I AM.” He included no adjectives, no descriptors, no action verbs. He simply used a short ambiguous phrase - “I AM.” But really, what more fitting title could there be for God? That name implies thoroughness. God encompasses all that is good, all that is holy, all that is perfect, all that is righteous, and all that is beautiful. That name implies consistency. God is ever present and unchanging. That name implies originality. There is no other God. He is the one and only. So, “I AM” was the perfect name for God.

Ultimately, the point that God was trying to make to Moses during this interaction was that it did not matter who Moses was; it only mattered who “I AM.” Moses was so caught up in himself and all of his excuses that he failed to REALLY see God — the One who made a bush burn without destroying it, the One who was overlooking Moses’ past, and the One who wanted to rescue a people that Moses himself once wanted to rescue. So, it really did not matter who Moses was; it only mattered who God is.

Do you believe that? Do you believe that it does not matter who you are and only matters who God is? If you do, then how is that belief manifesting itself in your life?

For starters, it should manifest itself by eliminating our excuses. We are experts at excuse making. We come up with all kinds of excuses as to why we do not attend worship services, why we do not participate in the ministries of our local congregation, why we refuse to assume greater responsibility in the kingdom of God, and why we fail to contribute our talents, skill sets, and resources to the work of the church. If it does not matter who I am and only matters who God is, then we should never be guilty of spiritual excuse making since all such excuses are focused on one’s self rather than one’s God.

Additionally, such a mindset should manifest itself by empowering us. It is very easy for us to focus on our failures, our inadequacies, and our deficiencies just like Moses. When such is our focus, we fail to see value in ourselves. But God does not see us that way. He sees value in us. In fact, He sees so much value in us that He was willing to die in our stead “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). So, if it does not matter who I am and only matters who God is, then we should view ourselves as God’s “workmanship,” and begin letting God bring to fruition the “good works” which He “prepared beforehand” to be accomplished in and through us (Ephesians 2:10).

God shared His name with Moses and with us so that we would understand that the story is not about us but about Him because He alone is the great “I AM.”

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