Who is God to you? In the last “chapter” of Creed, we talked about the names of God and what they mean; each name synonymous with who God is. At times, the Old Testament writers called him LORD, or Adoni. At other times, they called Him El Shaddai, as well as a host of other names.
As Christians we have given to Jesus some of the most beautiful names imaginable, such as “Rose of Sharon,” “the Bright and Morning Star,” and “Fairest of Ten Thousand.” But let’s take a moment to look at who He said He was…and is…and evermore shall be.
Who He Was to Moses
“In the beginning, God.”
These are the first four words of the best selling book of all time, the Bible. “In the beginning… Elohiym, a plural intensive title with a single meaning, which is “the true God.” In the beginning, God was made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God has always been who He is and will always be who He is.
This is exciting to know! The Jesus we read about in the New Testament stories and letters is the same who took part in the creating of the world, who walked with Enoch, and who made covenant with Abraham. Jesus is God and was present when Jacob became Israel, when Joseph was sold into slavery and then raised to a high position in Egypt, and it was Jesus who was present when the Hebrew children moved southward into Egypt during a great famine.
It was Jesus whose shoulders slumped and whose heart broke as His children became Egyptian slaves and it was Jesus who was present at the birth of a little baby boy named Moses; an infant who would grow to be the great leader of his people.
For anyone who has never read the story or seen the movie (where have you been?), Moses was born a Hebrew slave and raised as an Egyptian prince. A grown man, he murdered a “fellow” Egyptian, then fled into the desert of Midian. There, he married a daughter of Jethro, Zipporah, with whom he had two sons. He became a shepherd.
One day, while Moses was “pasturing the flock” (Exodus 3:1), he came to Mt. Horeb, known as “the Mountain of God.” There, he encountered “the burning bush,” which—though in flames—did not burn up. One can imagine the look he might have given it. What is that? Not something to be rushed up to, but certainly something to be investigated.
And then a voice came out of the bush.
Now, here’s the amazing part (as if a burning bush is not amazing enough).
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3: 4-6)
Did you catch it?
LORD, or Jehovah. God, or Elohiym.
Why would these two names for God be used together in a single incident?
“The ancient rabbis taught that YHVH (Jehovah is derived from YHVH, and there is no "J" sound in Hebrew) represented the merciful aspects of God, while Elohiym represented the judgment side of Him,” says author, speaker, and teacher Sandy Bloomfield-Demilli. “When you see them together you are seeing both law and grace at the same time.”
Think about this for just a moment. What is about to occur will change the course of both physical and spiritual history. The Law and the Grace are speaking to Moses, declaring whom He is…for all time.
And here stands Moses, a mere human. A murderer and a refuge. A man separated from his own people. Is he ready to receive it? Not really, no. But God knows that it is time, none-the-less, and on this mountain, with this great God, Moses receives the great commission of his lifetime: Go back to Egypt, face Pharaoh, and bring My people out of slavery.
Of course we know the story. Moses says, “Who am I to do this?” to which is God’s reply, “Surely I will be with you.”
I love that. What God is saying here is, “Without me, nothing. Nada. Zippo. But with me, everything. Bold. Fearless. A great leader. A man who will be honored forever.”
It’s the early version of “I can do all things…”
Moses asks, “Who do I say sent me?” Literally, what he said was this: What is your name?
Then Jehovah answered, “I AM WHO I AM. Tell them I AM sent you.”
So often the story, as we tell it, ends there. But there’s more!
This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. (Exodus 3:15b)
Who Jesus Said He Was (and is…)
Fast-forward a few thousand years. Jesus has come to earth. Though a Heavenly Prince, He is, in human form, a Hebrew “slave” of the Roman Empire. He has achieved adulthood, lived as a carpenter, and entered the ministry. AD 27 was His Year of Inauguration, followed by the Year of Popularity (AD 28). AD 29 began the Year of Opposition, among one of the first notable acts being the feeding of the 5,000 and the walking on water.
In John 6: 34, Jesus issues the first of what we now call the “I AM” statements.
“I am the bread of life.” (6:35)
“I am the light of the world.” (8:12)
“I am the gate for the sheep.” (10:9)
“I am the good shepherd.” (10: 11)
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (11:25)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (14:6)
“I am the true vine.” (15:1)
In the middle of these declarations about Himself, Jesus and the disciples head up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus’ brothers (see Mark 6:3 for one of the several references to Jesus’ earthly family) taunted Him before departure. “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” (John 7: 3, 4)
The disbelieving brothers left for the Feast and Jesus followed, but He moved privately, not publicly, as he’d been doing.
The Jews in Jerusalem anticipated the arrival of the Great Rabbi. Reading the text in John’s seventh chapter, one gets a sense of them waiting outside the gate, peering over the wall, peeking out the windows, and keeping a watch on the streets. Jesus, however, waited until halfway through the Feast before He made an appearance at the temple. Once there, He boggled the minds of those who heard Him. So impressed were the Roman guards, when they went back to the chief priests, they came without the “prisoner!”
“Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. “You mean he’s deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. (45,46)
The following day Jesus appeared, once again, at the temple. Who should appear but the Pharisees and “teachers of the law” and whom should they have with them but a woman caught in the act…the very act…of adultery.
What must this picture have looked like? People were crowding around the Rabbi. The noise is great and people are shushing one another, hoping the Man of Galilee will give them another point to ponder, another sermon to challenge their thinking, and another pebble of a clue as to who He is.
The woman is thrown at the feet of her Creator. Is she naked? Hair down, face buried in the palms of her hands, is she bruised and bloodied from being dragged through the streets? And where is the man with whom she was caught? Weeping and embarrassed, is she then covered by the outer coat of the One who knows her best…and loves her most?
What a moment this must have been!
Now, take note of this line:
They made her stand before the group…(8: 3c)
Clothed or naked, her sin is completely exposed. She is humiliated and degraded, not only because of the crowd around her, but because she is standing naked before God.
(Think about that for a moment before we go further. When was the last time you stood naked before God? Here I am, Lord. All of me. All of my faults, my weaknesses, my sins, my fears, my transgressions against others…. Here I am.
In what way does Jesus reply? “No, my child…here I AM.” Oh, blessed Savior! Blessed Redeemer! Blessed, blessed Jesus!)
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (8:4)
Don’t you love it? These people, who call Jesus “Teacher,” but hardly mean it, are reminding the Giver of the Law about the Law. “Now what do you say?” they ask Him, hoping to trip Him up.
But you can’t trip the Giver of the Law on the very words He has written, can you? What does Jesus do? He bends down and begins writing on the ground with His finger. What did He write? We don’t know. But, let’s suppose what He was inscribing were specific sins. As He is doing so, the Pharisees keep questioning Him until He straightens up and says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (8:7b)
If what I’m suggesting is true—if He’d written specific sins in the sand—as He stoops back down, the eyes of the sinners are now glaring at their own iniquities.
Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (8:8)
What did He write this time? Let’s suppose He began writing names next to sins. Their names. The self-righteous “teachers of the Law.”
At this, those who heard began to go away…until only Jesus was left with the woman standing there. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (8:9-11)
Well, now. Guess who returned for more! The Pharisees. They just can’t seem to get enough of this. They question, Jesus answers, leading them to ask this all-important question: “Who are you?” (8:25)
Jesus replies, “Just what I have been claiming all along,” which only confused the great teachers even more, leading to this declaration: When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am…” (8:28)
Jesus now begins to teach the people about Abraham, the “father of their nation,” and about His relationship to him. In fact, Jesus speaks as though He actually knows Abraham, which of course, He does. Now the people are becoming incensed. Man, oh, man! One does not—no matter how many miracles one does—go around claiming to have known Abraham and, worse yet, to be positionally over him!
“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” (Translated: “Yeah, right.”) (8:57)
Here it comes…are you ready? The bottom line. The declaration of all declarations. No burning bush necessary. Jesus, introducing Himself to the world in a mighty big way.
“I tell you the truth…before Abraham was born, I AM!” (9:58)
“This ain’t no lie…I AM GOD!”
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at http://evamarieeverson.com/.
Other Articles in This Series:
Creed: What is God's name...other than 'God?'
Creed: What Do You Really Believe?
More Than Words
For more information about Sandy Bloomfield-Demelli, go to: http://bloomtolife.com/