I AM.1

Iambanner Moses asked, "So when they ask me who sent me, what should I tell them?  I know you are God… but what if they ask me your name?  Who should I say you are?"

God answered, "Tell them I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you should tell them.  I AM has sent you… This is my name forever."

The name God chose for himself is a wild name.  No one is quite sure just how to translate it.  In Hebrew the name comes from the word "to be".  We use the letters YHWH to show the word, but no one is quite sure how it should be pronounced.  Along the way somebody threw in some vowel sounds and some German pronunciation and we came up with "Jehovah"… but this probably isn’t accurate.  Most hebraic scholars through history have come to believe that YHWH should be pronounced "Yahweh".  It has been such a sacred name, that in ancient Israel and in many Jewish and Christian circles today, the word would never be spoken out-loud.  In fact, in most of our Bibles today, instead of spelling out YHWH, translators have agreed to print "LORD" instead.

So when Jesus starts using this phrase to describe himself, he really stirred up some strong opinions in people.  Sometimes people would marvel at him… Many times people wanted to kill him for being so brazen.  Crowds began wondering who he could be to say such things about himself.  They started asking him, "Who are you?  Where do you come from?  Who has sent you?"  Often, Jesus would answer, "I AM." 

Bold.  In many posts to come I’m going to reflect on these I AM statements from Jesus.  I’ve started a new category for these posts, because I expect there will be many of them over the months ahead.  Feel free to leave questions, insights, observations, objections, etc in the comments below.

One Comment

  1. So, this whole I Am thing was something that I recently went over in one of my classes and my prof made a couple of interesting observations I thought I would pass on. YHWH is the same word that is used in Genesis where the translation is always “The LORD God” and not just God. The name, though people do not know how to translate it, definately carries some royal significance and weight with it. This passes on into the story of Moses. Understanding that the Hebrews are living after the time of Abraham who was promised that his people would become a great nation and that there would be kings from his line, the Hebrews have been crying out and God has heard their call. He confronts Moses and Moses is instructed to use the I Am name of God. There is definately a phiosophical nature to be drawn out of this, but my prof was doing narrative theology, so the significance of using that name within the greater story was what he wished to point out.
    When God says what you pointed out, it suggests, within the narrative, God is for Israel. He has not forgotten, He is present and He is ‘Lord’ for Israel and more powerful than their current captors forever! Within the story of Israel’s national development, God confirms his covenant with Abraham and his desire, through Moses’ writing of the Law, is shown to be king and ‘Lord’ over Israel. I wonder if there are any similar implications to be drawn out of the story of Christ’s use of these sayings? I Am sure you will be getting to that later.

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