(Reading Text: Exodus 3:1-15; 4:18)
God appeared to Moses in a spectacular burning bush in which fire was raging and the burning grass was not consumed but flourished with green leaves. This incident was sufficiently prophetic. God knew that Moses had for more than 40 years agonised about the enslavement, hardship and distressful condition of his people in Egypt. For this purpose Moses became a fugitive in the wilderness of Midian. Moses was now 80 years and apparently a worried man. All his hopes about the deliverance of his people were getting lost. God sought to address the worries in the mind of Moses in a prophetic real life revelation: the fire was raging but the grass was flourishing in green leaves. God was simply revealing to Moses that “this affliction will not consume My people” – “though the fire is burning, I have not let it consume My people; I will deliver them and I am beginning that deliverance now.”
Moses did not comprehend the burning bush revelation and God’s preparedness to deliver His people. Consequently, Moses did not adequately understand who this God is and what He is capable of doing. That’s why Moses asked in verse 13: “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?”
Until now Moses only knew this God as “God of their fathers” i.e. God of the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By implication, Moses only knew God as a form of ancestral god – the god of the past generations; the god we only heard about in ancient stories; the God whose power to deliver stopped some 430 years ago.
Many people, including Christians still have this misconception – that the God of the patriarchs or the Old Testament God has changed and diminished in power.
Vs. 14-15: God gave Moses 2 answers to his questions; one incomplete and the other complete. First answer: “I AM WHO I AM; say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent you.” This first answer confused Moses the more. No body bears such a clumsy name: I AM or I AM WHO I AM. This answer was incomplete to the extent that it was beyond Moses’ comprehension. But to the self-existing God it was a complete answer. God was simply saying to Moses, I am a God of the present tense, a God of the now, not a God of the forefathers or an ancestral god. God is likewise saying to somebody going through difficult afflictions today, “I am a God of the now.”
God needed to complete the “I AM” introduction in due course for people like Moses to understand and it took Him 1,500 years to complete it. The God of the universe is too big to be introduced in one go or in one day as Moses mistakenly expected.
Second answer: “Say to the people of Israel the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name for ever and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations”. In the second answer, God was informing and reassuring Moses that He is not the type of ancestral God Moses had in mind. God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is an everlasting covenant of blessing to them and their descendants. As believers in Jesus Christ who [Himself] descended from Abraham, we are the true children of Abraham and heirs to God’s promise to the patriarch (Gal.3:29).
For the following 1,500 years of bible history, from Moses to John the Baptist, God sent dozens of prophets to the children of Israel and surrounding nations, each with a specific message. One unifying characteristic of all the Old Testament prophets was that they were all “THUS SAID THE LORD” prophets, i.e. messengers declaring the message of God. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest of the prophets all came, prophesied as the Lord commanded them and never attributed anything as coming from them. Consequently, the promise of the coming of a Messiah was a constant thread in most of the Old Testament prophesies.
The mission of the Messiah was not clear to the people of Israel, not least the prophets who gave the messages from God. The people of Israel expected a conquering king in the nature of David. Some of the prophets and spiritual leaders expected a great “THUS SAYS THE LORD” prophet in the nature of Elijah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel.
But Jesus came with a radically different mission and message: He was both the message and messenger. Jesus never said THUS SAYS THE LORD, but came to complete the “I AM” revelation that God started with Moses. Jesus would not say “THUS SAYS THE LORD” because He is the Lord (The Lord of the Sabbath, Mtt. 12:8).
Five “I AM” Revelations from Jesus that can Change your Life
(1) In Jn. 6:35 Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life, He who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall not thirst.” Context: The people followed Him for more bread because of the previous miracles of multiplying bread to feed the multitude. We eat bread to satisfy physical hunger and sustain physical life. We can only satisfy spiritual hunger and sustain spiritual life by a right relationship with Jesus Christ. Just as we need bread for daily physical life, we also need to invite Jesus in and keep Him at the centre of our lives for daily spiritual sustenance.
(2) In Jn. 8:12, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Context: Jesus was teaching in the temple where the ritual of constantly burning large candles to symbolize the pillar of fire that led the people of Israel out of the wilderness was practiced. Jesus was simply saying to the people, enough of this ritual. I am the true light that will prevent you from stumbling in darkness.
(3) In Jn. 10: 7-9, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep, if any one enters by me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pastures. Jn. 10:11: “I am the good the shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus is simply saying, “I am the Only Way to God’s kingdom.” As the shepherd protects and feeds the sheep, so shall I protect and nurture you in my kingdom. In my kingdom, I will guarantee your safety, security, protection and material provision.
(4) In Jn. 11:25, Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Context: Martha said to Jesus “Lord, if you had been here my brother Lazarus would not have died”. In other words, she was accusing Jesus of coming too late to save her brother because actually Jesus came four days late from the time they sent for him that Lazarus was sick. But Jesus is never late. He is not late in your situation once you still have breadth and life in you. Even for the dead, he is not late because He is the resurrection and the life. What Martha did not realise was that she was speaking to the source of life, the one that had power over death. Only three words from Jesus – “Lazarus come forth” – brought back Lazarus to life. Jesus can fix any part that is dead or aching in your body.
(5) In Jn. 14:6-7, Jesus summarized the “I AM” message and His purpose in coming to the world when He declared: “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, no one comes to the Father except by Me. If you had known me you would have known my Father also. Henceforth, you know him and have seen Him”.
What God did in Christ was to multiply Himself, being a triune God. He had one representation of Him appear in a tangible physical form in the world as Jesus Christ. He took human form in Christ Jesus to come down to our level that we could relate better to Him. At the same time, He remained in heaven as God Almighty but continued to brood over the face of the earth in the power and person of the Holy Spirit. The trinity has no other tangible physical personality than Jesus Christ. He is the personification of the “I AM GOD” (Jn. 1:1, 14).
By: Ken Omeje, Pastor, CoC Gospel Church, Bradford. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org