In Exodus 3, God presented Himself to Moses via a bush that was burning without being consumed and commissioned him to be the individual who would lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt. Many would be excited to be chosen by God for such a special assignment, but not Moses. Instead of humbly accepting the task, Moses tried to find a way to get out of it.
His 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). It is as if Moses was saying, “You’ve got the wrong guy. I’m not qualified for this assignment. I’m not even deserving of this assignment. Do you know what I did in Egypt? Do you know why I left that place? Do you know what the Hebrews really think of me?” To understand why Moses feels this way, you have to remember that he fled Egypt as a royal fugitive. Moses grew up in the house of Pharaoh and enjoyed the perks of being a member of the royal family even though he shared the same ethnicity as their slaves. One day, he witnessed an Egyptian assaulting one of his kinsmen, and he responded by killing the Egyptian. The next day he witnessed a physical altercation between two of his kinsmen and attempted to intervene only to discover that not only did they not respect him but they also knew of his crime. So, as Moses listened to God’s call, all he 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. 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.
However, 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 one like 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 inadequacies that he failed to REALLY see God — the One who made a bush burn without destroying it, the One who was forgiving Moses’ past, and the One who wanted to rescue a people that Moses himself once wanted to rescue. So, it did not matter who Moses was; it only mattered who God is.
And the same is true for us today. It does not matter who you are; it only matters who God is. God shared His name with Moses and with us so that we would understand that the story is not about us. It is about Him because He alone is the great “I AM.” And the same is true for you and me today. It does not matter who you are; it only matters who God is. God shared His name with Moses and with us so that we would understand that the story is not about us. It is about Him because He alone is the great “I AM.”