“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will free you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with mighty power and great acts of judgment. I will make you my own special people, and I will be your God. And you will know that I am the LORD your God who has rescued you from your slavery in Egypt.” - Exodus 6:6-7
In Africa, parents name their children after events that coincide with the birth of the child. In America, parents sometimes name their children after their favorite celebrities. In my native England, parents usually name their children after another family member. But in ancient times, names held special significance. They often described the personality and significance of the one bearing the name. So, for instance, Jacob needed a new name when God turned his life around, and he became Israel; and Jesus was given his name precisely because Jesus means “God is the Savior.”
Moses and Aaron had just confronted Pharaoh and demanded that he let Israel go and worship God in the wilderness. Pharaoh responded by increasing the burden of their slavery. The leaders of Israel blamed Moses and Aaron for their woes. What a predicament they were in! But as always, Moses looked to the Lord for help.
In response, God reminded Moses, “I am the LORD” (Exod. 6:6). The Hebrew word translated “LORD” is Yahweh or Jehovah—a name so sacred to the devout Jew that he will not even pronounce it. The name is related to the verb to be, which is significant when we remember that God had also told Moses that his name is “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS” (3:14). Moses needed to know that the Lord is the unchanging one, the one who always is, without beginning, without end, totally self-contained and self-sufficient, not dependent, not contingent, lacking nothing, complete and entire in himself.
“What’s in a name?” asked Shakespeare. Everything, if it is the name of the great I AM. God’s name is a revelation of who he is. We failing, fragile creatures need to be constantly reassured that the Lord is the One Who Always Is. When we get this straight, it does not matter that things change, that the future is obscure, that fears assail us, or that doubts beset us. He does not change, and in him we find our security and our confidence. Remember, Jesus’ final words to his disciples were, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Because he is with us, we can have complete confidence in him.
For Further Study: Exodus 6:1-8
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