The Great I AM Meaning

There is a lot of meaning in our names. I remember poring over baby name books trying to find just the right name for our children. But today I want to look at the greatest of all the names of God; the name God gave himself- the Great I AM.  

He is the Great I AM- night sky with stars and Milky way against a dark hill and tree

God’s Names

While we may have just one given name, God had many different names given to him- Elohim, El Shaddai, and Adonai to name a few. Here are a few “I am” statements that describe his character: I am God Almighty, I am with you, I am the Lord who heals you, I am merciful, I am the Lord who made all things, etc. The list is extensive! 

But there is only one time He gives himself a name.

Exodus 3 

The story begins in Exodus 3.

Now Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he spies a burning bush. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in the flames of fire. Moses investigates why this bush is on fire, but not burning up.

God calls to Moses and says, “take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” v5. God identifies himself as “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

He was telling Moses that He was the God who has kept his covenant with his people.  God had seen the Israelites’ hardships in slavery to the Egyptians for over 400 years.

He wants Moses to go to Pharaoh to bring His people out of Egypt.

Then Moses immediately begins making excuses. Moses is now about 80 years old, so maybe he thinks he’s too old. 

I’m not entirely sure why Moses tries to talk God out of sending him. Fear? Feeling inadequate? Comfortable with his life the way it is? Does the task seem impossible? 

You know, all the typical reasons we tell God why we can’t do his work.

One of Moses’ objections to the task was “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” v13.

God’s people took great stock in names. They believed names expressed something significant about their character. 

Moses going to the Jewish people with a name that conveyed authority and power might cause the plan to be better received.

It is here that God reveals himself, the name he gives himself, to Moses, and to us.

The Name of God

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites:’ I AM has sent me to you.’” v 14.

The Hebrew word for this divine name of God is the four consonant capital letters YHWH, meaning “to be/will be,” which is where the name Yahweh comes from. And if you’re like me, that means… what??

The Great I AM Meaning

If we were Hebrew language scholars, it would be super helpful, as apparently Hebrew verb tense usage comes into play in understanding the meaning of Yahweh.

Therefore, I give you Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible’s explanation as it seemed to explain it the best:

“This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings. It denotes his eternity and immutability [unchanging nature], and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come. The sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am.”

I had to read that a couple of times to take it all in. It’s like trying to describe the indescribable.

He wants us to know Him, but we can’t fully know Him until we meet face to face. So in those few words, God expresses himself perfectly.

He gave himself a personal name that describes His full existence, plan, purpose, power, and assurances. God was everything they needed, and He was not going to fail or let them down.

He is the Great I AM

You know the rest of the story. Moses continues giving excuses even after hearing the most magnificent, all-encompassing explanation of God’s character. 

But in the end? God does exactly what He said he would do. He did it for the Israelites, and he does the same for us.

The same God that guided the Israelites is the same great I AM who walks beside us every single day.

His intensity of purpose and care for us has not changed since the days of old. The same God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses is the God of AnnMarie. He is your God. He is I AM.

God reminds us in v15 “This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.”  

“I AM WHO I AM” is a unique, one and only name; it’s the Name.

We need to remember the sacredness and fullness of his name.

It’s such an all-encompassing picture of how He works in the world and in our individual lives. He wants us to remember him this way as a way of comforting us.  

If we truly believe He is who he says He is, how could we not trust him in the workings of our lives? Why would we ever worry?

I love this quote by Lauren Bunker-

“The Great I AM is stronger than the Great What If.”

Our mighty and sovereign God eclipses all, especially the deceitful voice of the enemy who wants us to question everything about God.

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Jesus’ I AM Statements

There are many names associated with Jesus in the Bible. In the Old Testament, we read of Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’s birth and the names given to Him.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting father, Prince of Peace.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus is called “Lord of lords and King of kings.” Revelation 17:14.

And just as God the Father called Himself ‘The Great I AM’, the following statements of Jesus describe Himself as “I AM.” 

We find all the following in the Book of John.

John 6:35

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.”

We eat bread to satisfy physical hunger and to keep ourselves alive. We can satisfy our spiritual hunger and sustain our spiritual life only by a right relationship with Christ Jesus. 

John 8:12-

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In His light, we can see ourselves as we really are- sinners in need of a Savior. When we follow the True Light, we can avoid walking blindly and stumbling in the dark. He lights our path so we can clearly see what direction to go.

John 15:1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”

He wants us to know that even though He now lives again in Heaven; He continues to nourish and sustain us just as a living plant does. Jesus is the vine and God is the gardener who cares for the branches (us.)

John 10:9

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” ESV.

In a sheep pen, the shepherd functioned as the door; letting the sheep in and out. Jesus is the door to God’s salvation for us, offering safety, protection, and security.

John 14:6

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

This is one of the basic and most important messages from Jesus. The only way to know peace with God and experience eternal life in Heaven is through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.

These powerful statements from Jesus are significant because they tell us the character of God and the divine nature of Jesus Christ.

God is the Great I AM

Someday we will see God’s full glory and be in His presence. Until then, let the glorious name I AM invade your thoughts and prayers this week.

As I was working on a house painting project yesterday, I had my worship music playing. I had to just smile and shake my head, as I must have heard the name “I AM” mentioned in at least 10 worship songs. 

I hear those songs frequently and never noticed it before. It was as if God wanted me to know that indeed, the Great I AM is with me today and all my days.

My prayer for you this week is that you will feel him at work in your life in the same way!

Psalm 9:10

 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

In His Name,


All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.

Photo Credit: Canva

2 thoughts on “The Great I AM Meaning”

    1. I’m glad you were so responsive to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and that it led to us connecting! I love this story of how God names Himself. It is so powerful! God bless you Nancy!

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