Yesterday, during both the morning sermon and afternoon session on Exodus, many ideas and thought and reflection points came to me. I hope to share some of them in later posts, but here I just want to share the one word that stood out for me during the two sessions yesterday: ‘who’.
When God first appeared to Moses at the burning bush, the first question Moses asked God was , “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” I feel that these were two very ‘human’ questions to ask, especially when standing in the presence of a holy and powerful God. Yet, while Moses looked inward to see who he was, he stopped short of looking upwards to see who God was. In a sense, he started out with human-questions, but the problem is that he did not answer them with God-answers (which God wopuld later patiently provide for him).
So, in starting with an identity based on self, Moses was looking at the telescope the wrong way round. He then flipped the telescope around and asked God, “Who are you?” And God gave Moses this marvelous answer: “I AM”.
I have always wondered why God would call Himself by such an enigmatic name. Then, as an English teacher, I remember that a sentence needs only two things to be complete: a subject and a verb. So when God says His name is “I AM”, He is demonstrating that He is complete in Himself; he is both subject and verb; He is everything we could possibly need.
But the revelation did not stop here for me. A contrast immediately jumped at me when I realize that our posture and our heart make all the difference when we encounter the God who is ‘I AM’. For in Exodus 5:2, Pharoah also haughtily asked this question, “Who is the Lord ? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go?” To this question, God would very soon answer Pharaoh with his mighty outstretched hand. Yet, I am thankful that God is not just a mighty deliverer, but He is also a gentle saviour, who showed us who ‘I AM’ is – in the person of Jesus:
“I AM the way, the truth and the life.”
“I AM the bread of life.”
“I AM the light of the world.”
“I AM the good shepherd.”
“I AM the resurrection and the life.”
When Moses stood in front of the burning bush and asked ‘Who are you?”, he could scarecely have known that God would answer 2,000 years later in a totally unexpected way that would bring salvation not just to Israel, but to all nations. Today, 2,000 years later, the ‘I AM’ God is still inviting us to discover who He is.