Some cultures believe that a name describes our character or what that character should be. This was especially true for the people of God in the Old Testament. While this cannot be taken too far, a study of names can produce surprising insights. Many places and people have names that are related to a reality or event.
God is described with several names that are rich in meaning. However, at least one religious cult says that the proper name of God is Jehovah and since they use that name, they claim to be the only true believers. They get this from God’s encounter with Moses, but unfortunately didn’t do their homework.
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13–14)
I don’t know much about the Hebrew language so consulted people who do. From several, I learned that this name was not a new revelation. The OT people who believed in God already knew the word translated ‘I AM.’ However, this word is a challenge. It is four consonants without vowels. The proper pronunciation has been lost. It could be: “I am He who is,” or “I am He who exists” reflecting the “is-ness” of God by both His presence and existence. Both are important.
He already told His people that He would be with them in their troubles. While the term speaks of God’s self-existence, they associated it with His relationship to them as their faithful, covenant Redeemer. It also refers to God as creator and sustainer of all that is and all that is happening. He is active and present in their lives. Moses may have understood what He said as, “I cause to be because I cause to be.”
In this encounter with Moses, God authorized him to tell His people: “I AM” has sent me to you,” making this man His prophet who was assigned to speak on His behalf to the Israelites.
In summary, God’s name is a dynamic name based on a Hebrew verb. He is the self-existent One who always was, always is, and always will be, the faithful and dependable God who calls Himself “I AM.” Centuries later, Jesus would take the name “I AM” and even complete it saying: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the light of the world” (8:12), “I am the true vine” (15:1), and so on.
There is no one like God. Tozer says, “When God would make His name known to mankind He could find no better word than ‘I AM.’ When He speaks in the first person He says, ‘I AM’; when we speak of Him we say, ‘He is’; when we speak to Him we say, ‘Thou art.’ Everyone and everything else measures from that fixed point. ‘I am that I am,’ says God, ‘I change not.’”
People often say that people never change, but that is not true. Children grow; their ideas and values change along with their bodies. My husband has changed in the years we have been married. I have changed too, become less concerned with my well-being and more interested in others. Everyone I know changes as they learn and age.
Sometimes people change in negative ways, whether their ‘real’ self comes out or they become hardened by life. This is often disappointing, particularly if they were people we counted on to stay the same.
Even though this never happened to me, this promise is a blessing: “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.” (Psalm 27:10, NKJV)
He never changes. He might not explain Himself, or let me in on His plans, but He never forsakes me, and He always uses all things for my good, transforming my life as He promises.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
That ‘good’ is to be like Jesus (verse 29), to be the very best person I can be and that promise also affirms that people do change — in the hands of an unchangeable God. He is who He is. I can depend upon Him.
Jesus, faith in You has transformed my life. When I think of You as the same yesterday, today, and forever, I feel anchored, held firm by You. You are my rock. I know I can depend on You, the I AM in a chaotic and constantly changing world.