I AM Who I AM

Exodus 3:13-22

Few years back was popular for people, especially political figures, to declare with no hesitation: Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Guess that was supposed to make everyone feel better, like good Muslims and Christians all on same part of theological reservation. You’ve all probably heard at least once or twice: well, I like to think of God this way”. And then the old stand-by – all roads lead to heaven, they just go by different names. At the risk of oversimplifying, baloney! I believe text we just read bears that out.

Moses just received marching orders – go to Pharaoh, lead children of Israel out of Egypt, worship at Sinai. Bear in mind, Moses would be going back into culture where short list of gods numbered nearly 100, each with different name. Not a lot different from places today. In fact saw new book being promoted on Amazon few days ago – “One Heart, Many Gods: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Devotional Polytheism”. Not surprising to get asked “which god?”

Exodus a good reminder that God of Bible defines who he is for our understanding and worship. God declares what he is like, not leaving it for his creatures to make up. God demonstrates toward both friends and enemies who he is and what he is like.

A. God defines v.13-15 God of Life

main character of story

practice for last 100 years – teach stories from OT… centered on people: Adam/Eve; Cain/Abel; Noah/Flood; Jacob/Esau, etc.

significant people, of course… names are in Bible – minimizes, if not overlooks, introduction to OT – in the beginning God

what follows in 66 books – first and foremost… the story of the “God who is”, not “who came into being”, but “who is”

Bible is God’s word that reveals God to us – God telling his story, telling who he is, what he has done/is doing, and what he expects his people to do and be

God seen more readily in some portions of his story, be assured he is present in all of it whether visibly or not

what he is called

Moses started with “here am I’, pretty quickly backed off to “who am I”, then side-stepped to “who are you”

not only asking for right name to call God by, remember “name” in OT thought intimately connected with character

who is this God in relation to their circumstances – what about his nature and character would encourage and help now

response: “I AM”, God who simply is – as he is, so he was, so he will be – Yahweh, self-existent, eternal, unchanging

what he is like… no other

Yahweh alone source of all life – could not have had beginning, who/what gave him life? life only comes from life, spontaneous generation debunked years ago

since Yahweh alone is eternal, does not need to consult with anyone about plans/actions – no opinion polls, listener surveys, referendum questions

nothing else simply is – everything apart from God constantly changing, becoming something other than what was yesterday

while all else changes, God will be God doing what God alone purposes regardless of any other object, person, force

Rom. 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Yahweh present in all generations, relevant to all generations, only source of hope and life for all generations

don’t need to come up with new strategy to market God and Gospel – just do as God says, he knows what he is doing

many people “I like to think of God…” – God not subject to or defined by man’s opinion; what’s important: what Bible says

B. God declares v.16-18 God of Promise

what he has seen

Gen. 50:24-25 Joseph, 2x declared “God will surely visit you” – God reminding Moses/Hebrew children: prophecy made by Joseph in process of being fulfilled

God in process of actively intervening in events taking place in Egypt – people had no clue, could not see God moving

all-powerful unchanging God is also everywhere present and all-knowing – God knew far more about circumstances than people in them did… true today for each of you, your individual situation

had they taken time to do the math, people should have been looking for God to move – Gen. 15:13-14 “Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.“And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”

most important things not what children of Israel could see, how they felt – #1 thing for them and us: what has God said

our senses can be easily tricked, sometimes do it to ourselves – must stay firmly rooted in God and his truth recorded for us

what he has promised

remember who is promising here: God who is, God of their ancestors, God of the patriarchs who made large promises to them

God declaring his own ongoing commitment to what he promised – not forgotten, postponed, superseded by something else

has promised first to deliver from present affliction, from under thumb of dynasty loyal to Satan and those who worshiped demons (1 Cor. 10:20)

also promised to establish his people in land occupied and defended by those people – everyone knew only way that could happen is if God fought the battle

notice what God does not promise: freedom from effort, opposition, testing, temptation – does promise his presence, provision

what they will do

apparently already a leadership structure present among Jewish community – “gather the elders of Israel together”

elders = elderly, members of oldest generation alive, respected by everyone else for their wisdom and experience, actually Moses’ peers now :-)

God prepared Moses for response to his leadership – when Moses tried on his own, total failure; God assures will be different

why different? because God said so! – God would do all things necessary to carry out his purpose, including causing elders to listen to and heed Moses as God’s mouthpiece

Moses effectiveness as leader of his people dependent first on God’s appointing, second on God’s equipping of his servant, third on God’s preparing and motivating of the followers

see the pattern? who is the primary doer? – God who is absolute sovereign over all his creation the One moving his eternal plan forward through human agents

what Pharaoh is to do

yes, Moses to be the one who would speak God’s words, who would be at head of the line with elders and people behind him

important detail: Moses not a Lone Ranger – obviously is God’s instrument, and… supported by the elders also

request made of Pharaoh – let us go on 3-day journey so we can worship our God – how’s that for “in your face”?

clear from the outset – Yahweh Elohim of the Hebrews distinct from all gods of Egyptian pantheon, and yes, he outranks Pharaoh

key point right here – the oppressor of God’s people being asked to release them for purpose of worship; not vacation, not resettlement or better wages/lifestyle, but to worship the true God

sadly priorities of typical man, woman, boy, girl not same as God’s – too often satisfying personal desires comes before satisfying God’s commands

even more today since new covenant believers have it so much better than old covenant believers – better hope, High Priest, sacrifice, promises

C. God demonstrates v.19-22 God of Power

sovereignty in foreknowledge and foreordination

like Isaiah generations later, God prepares Moses for appearance of failure – God knows how Pharaoh will respond to request

God knows the outcome because God ordained it from the beginning – it is really God’s program, like to think it’s ours

God also makes clear no power short of God’s power will be adequate to deliver his people from Pharaoh… because God has planned it that way

in faithfulness and providence

God will also remain faithful to his people and his program – Hebrew children will actually be delivered by God, not destroyed by Pharaoh

through it all, God will provide for both short-term and long range needs of people – yes, people to remember how were mistreated

at same time, must remember how God took care of them – poverty-stricken oppressed slaves leaving slavery with all they needed… would not leave empty-handed

see reason – Ex. 9:16 – for the sake of self-revelation and Gospel

God had purpose in all of this, that encompasses all of humanity – intended to demonstrate his power, superior to every other power

40 years later Rahab – Josh. 2:10 ​”For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt” – expected response: worship, yes by the heathen

God did not intend to rely solely on nature/natural revelation for people to know about him – intended his Name be declared in all the earth

Notice how God repeats himself – v.17 “I have said I will bring you …to a land flowing with milk and honey.” Emphasizes fact of his promise, intent to keep promise to bring people to destination. Not send but bring. God treats his children same today – leading, present with them, bringing us to eternal land of promise. Just like Hebrew children we can count on God’s gracious presence and provision every step of way.

 

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