Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”John 8:58
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”Exodus 3:14
Have you ever seen a young child who, for the first time, encounters someone with the same name as their own?
“He’s not Levi. I am Levi!” says the 3-year old.
For a child all sense of identity in their own little kingdom is wrapped up in that one word—their name.
Parent: “Are you happy?”
Child: “No! I am Levi!”
As children age, their sense of identity expands as they add a last name. For parents, a child’s last name is an important historical tie to previous generations, incorporating a sense of cultural awareness and ancestral roots in the world. To a child, their newly discovered last name is a way to distinguish themselves from others of the same first name. They are unique. They are different. They are special.
Fascination with names runs rampant in our culture today. Television shows, websites and books explore people with the same name as us1, use names to trace ancestry and its impact on our identity today,23 allow us to have an unprecedented connection to our ancestors and make predictions about our name that may impact our life experiences.4
In the history of the universe, one of the most profound moments was when the One who created it all—the one for whom a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day—revealed His name to us.
(while standing by the burning bush)
Moses says: “What if the Israelites ask ‘What is his name?’” [the one who sent Moses]
God responds: “I AM…”
In these profound and mysterious words, the Creator shares his identity and ancestry with us. He tells us that he was, is and always will be. That he is all powerful, sovereign and mighty. In words to ring through all of eternity, God made himself and his creation known to us in a new and intimate way.
Throughout the Old Testament the sovereign name of God (I AM) is used to show love, power, clarity and leadership. In Isaiah, the prophet anticipates the incarnation of God in Christ, by finishing the unfinished sentence “I AM…” Later, when Christ came, He would fulfill and expand Isaiah’s prophecy by showing us exactly who God is in the world—I AM the bread of life, I AM the word, IAM the way, I AM the truth… as Christ. In this season of anticipating Christ’s coming, God promises that with His creating power, His incarnate advent into this world and His Spirit’s life in us, we will find I AM in all things.