Discussing His identity with the Jews, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you . . . before Abraham was born, I am!” With these words, Jesus claimed to be God Himself. How do we know? Partly from the response of the Jews—they picked up stones to stone Him for His blasphemous (so they thought) statement (John 8:58–59).
But we also know that Jesus was claiming to be God because “I AM” is the name God told Moses in today’s reading. After growing up as a prince of Egypt and living as a fugitive-turned-shepherd in Midian, Moses received God’s call in the remarkable episode of the burning bush. Initially, he responded with fear and reverence, removing his sandals and hiding his face.
As the conversation went on, however, his doubts and resistance grew. He was far from thrilled that God planned to use him to liberate the people of Israel from their slavery. His side of the conversation went something like this: Who, me? Are you sure you’ve got the right guy? What if things don’t go according to plan?
God was patient but firm with Moses. He gave him miraculous signs to strengthen his faith—not only the burning bush, but also the staff that became a snake and the hand that became leprous and then clean. He called Moses to be a leader and a prophet. He put His call in historical context, identifying Himself as the “God of your fathers” (v. 15). He assured Moses of both His compassion—He had heard the people’s prayers—and His power to answer those prayers. He gave Moses specific knowledge of the future, including the incredible news that the Israelites would plunder the Egyptians on their way out. He also gave His name as “I AM.” God defines Himself. There is no other. He has always been and will always be.
Apply the Word
As we see in today’s reading, God cares for His people, both as individuals and in community, and He has loving plans for us. This must be the basis for all our conversations with God! The great “I AM” is worthy of our worship and surrender. He is trustworthy. The things He told Moses must have sounded like a fairy tale, but they took place just as God said.