Moses and God’s Name I Am
Published September 24, 2019
A Retelling of Moses Learning God’s Name
It all started when the new Pharaoh decided that all baby boys had to die. The Hebrew people were growing quickly in number and Pharaoh was afraid that they’d grow in such strength that eventually one day they’d want to take over. So he decided only the girls could live and began ordering baby boys killed.
One fateful day, Moses as a little baby was put into a basket and left to float down the river. It was a last resort by his mother to save his life. She knew it probably meant death for him but that it was better than Moses being discovered and killed on site. Only God could save him now.
As it would happen, Pharaoh’s daughter would find Moses floating in the river, have compassion on him, and raise him as her own. As fate would have it, Moses’ sister was a servant to Pharaoh’s daughter. She nervously sat back and watched what would happen.
You can imagine some of the fears that were racing through her mind. Would she have to watch her baby brother killed in front of her. Would she have to deliver terrible news to her mother? Could she live with herself or possibly deal with Pharoah’s family if the worst would have happened?
But long story to short, Pharoah’s daughter sends her to go and get a Hebrew midwife to nurse the boy. That Hebrew midwife was Mose’s mother. It was one act of deliverance out of many that Moses would experience.
Moses would grow up an Egyptian, eventually fleeing from Egypt one day after killing an Egyptian taskmaster. He’d find himself tending sheep in the wilderness to try and make ends meet. He’d walk the flock to the other end of the wilderness, near Mount Horeb, the mountain of God and there his life would change forever.
Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, telling him to take off his shoes because where he was standing was sacred ground. Moses and God would talk and Moses would quickly learn that God has a special mission for Moses.
“Moses, go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go.”
Of course Moses would find himself dumbfounded. He’d go on to ask a bunch of what ifs. God what if Pharaoh says no? What if the Hebrew people reject me? What if they want to know who the God of their fathers is?
“God, what should I tell them your name is?
New life was on the horizon and God was about to answer Moses’ question. So God tells him,
I AM WHO I AM.Im the God of Abraham. The God of Isaac. The God of Jacob.
And another way to say it, I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.
God is the God of deliverance.
God delivered Abraham and Sarah a child.
God delivered a ram as a sacrifice in place of Isaac’s life.
God delivered Jacob from his life’s mistakes and still blessed him.
Moses had experienced deliverance and was about to experience it again. But this time on a much larger scale. When God said I Am That I Am, God is saying,
I Will Deliver You
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Setting Moses is tending his flock when he leads them to the far side of the wilderness and unexpectedly meets God in a burning bush at Mount Horeb.
The Characters Moses, the one drawn from the water. God, the one who continues to perform the impossible in the story of the Israelites.
The Tension God tells Moses to go and tell Pharaoh to release the Hebrew people from captivity, forced labor, slavery but as far as Moses is concerned, he doesn’t even know where to start. What if the people begin asking him a bunch of questions and he doesn’t know how to answer them. The central question in this passage being, God what is your name?
The Resolution God reveals his name as I Am Who I Am. Tells Moses to tell the people that I Am sent me. That the God of Abraham, The God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent him. The God of the impossible who makes things possible is sending Moses on a mission.
The Through Line God continues to make a way for his chosen people, using the impossible to usher in redemption into the world.
Why has this story endured? God finally reveals a name to the people. I Am Who I Am. I Will Be What I Will Be. And the thing that God continues to demonstrate is that God loves his people and will continue to bring redemption into the world through impossible odds. There’s something about human nature that’s drawn to the impossible. Perhaps it’s because the one who wired us gave us a curiosity for seeing the impossible made possible.
What is true for them then that is still true for us today? God want’s to deliver us from human oppression, from the things that steal our identity in God, from anything that strips life away from us.
How does this story help us love God? God has a heart for delivering us from this broken world.
How does this story help us love others? This is a story about not giving up. I’m sure Moses was dumbfounded at the initial call of being told to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people call and I’m sure it seemed overwhelming. That same Spirit is still alive today though, and we shouldn’t let the impossible stop us from loving others no matter the situation.
A Through Line Reflection
I am who I am. The God of the impossible. The God who gave Abraham and Sarah an impossible child. The God who gave Abraham a sacrifice in place of his son when it seemed it would b
e impossible to save him. The God who blessed Jacob thought it was all but impossible for God to bless him because of how he had lived his life. And now Moses. The one drawn from the water, asked to do the impossible, to deliver God’s people from Pharaoh.
Reflections based on Exodus 1:8-14; 1:15-2:10; 3:1-15