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 the name I want to look at today is the name God gave himself- the Great I AM.
While we may have just one given name, God had many different names given to him- Elohim, El, and Adonai to name a few. God describes his character in many ways in Scripture. Here are a few of his “I am” statements: 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 (NLT)
The stage is set in Exodus 3.
Moses is tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he spies a burning bush. God begins a conversation with Moses and in verse 6 calls himself “the God of your father, 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. He had seen the Israelites’ hardships in slavery to the Egyptians for over 400 years and he wants Moses to go to Pharaoh to bring His people out of Egypt.
The excuses start immediately. Now Moses is 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? The task seems 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.
The Hebrews took great stock in names- they believed that they expressed something significant about their character. If Moses could go to the Israelites with a name that conveyed authority and power, maybe the plan would be better received.
It is here that God reveals himself, the name he gives himself, to Moses, and to us.
“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.
In Hebrew, this name of God is the four consonant letters YHWH, meaning “to be/will be”, which is where the pronunciation Yahweh comes from. And if you’re like me, that means… what??
I Am that I Am Spiritual Meaning
If we were scholars in the Hebrew language, it would be super helpful, as apparently Hebrew verb tense usage comes into play in the explanation.
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; as also 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; and 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 he can’t be fully known until we meet him face to face. So in those few words, God expresses himself perfectly.
He gave himself a 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.
Pin me for later!
He is the Great I AM
You know the rest of the story. Moses continues in his 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 exact same God that guided the Israelites is the exact same great I AM who walks beside us every single day.
His intensity of purpose and care for us in our lives 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?
God is the Great I AM
Someday we will see his 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 Christian 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!
In His Name,
Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.”
22 thoughts on “He is the Great I AM”
I’d like a printed copy of the picture of this study. How would I get one?
Oh my, it’s so old, but I’m so glad you like it! I did find it in my media library. I copied the link, I hope this works for you!
I believe you could print from here? If not, let me know, I can try other things.
God Bless you Trudy!
Oh, this just blessed me!
I’m so glad! This attribute of God is so special to me…I’m not sure exactly why, but His magnificence overwhelms me! I love the song “The Great I Am” originally by Phillips, Craig and Dean, but also sung by many others. It stops me in my tracks to worship Him 🙂 Thanks so much for encouraging me with your comment 🙂
It’s the fact that The Great I AM is constant that I have constant hope. Thank you for this wonderful reminder.
You’re so welcome and thanks for reading!!
Thanks AnnMarie! 😀
You added to my understanding! I’ve pondered that verse a lot – I didn’t get the Greek though. So cool.
I kinda figured it was speaking to his eternal nature, but my take was that He was also saying He is eternally in the now… if that makes any sense. I feel like lots of scripture calls us to be present – not dwelling in the past or worried about the future.
Anyway – thanks for the insight – you described it so well 🙂
I totally agree Christina, it makes a lot of sense. I like your comment about being in the present! That’s so important!
What an amazing reminder of how faithful our God is! I’ve always loved the meaning behind names: as Sarah, I am considered God’s princess and was told that from an early age. Even when I didn’t do what I was supposed to, I knew I was His.
We are so blessed to be loved by the great I AM!
I love hearing this over and over. The same God who did all of the miracles in the Bible, the same God who used the improbable is walking with Me. I am grateful for it!
So hard to fathom, but so comforting to lean on our faith in Him!
Such a wonderful reminder! So thankful that He is always with us.
Me too! We serve a mighty God!
This was a great lesson reminder, AnnMarie. Our great I AM, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Aren’t we blessed to be his adopted children?
Oh my goodness yes!
This is a really great lesson in not only who God is but who He says He is! We spend and insane amount of time picking the perfect names for our kids and it’s so interesting to see that as they get older, but only does their character fit the names they were given but their names characterized the seasons we were in when they were born. Makes us think maybe we weren’t naming them but God was and if that’s the case, just how important are names to Him?
One of my next blog posts is on the disciples and it got me wondering… Jesus gave James and John the nickname of “sons of thunder”- does he give them to us too??? LOL!
Loved this lesson…
Thanks for the swetest word
Thanks for the sweet and encouraging comment! Our God is an awesome God!!