Why Does God Refer to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

In the Abrahamic Covenant, the Lord repeated the covenant promise to three generations, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All three were promised land, many descendants, and a blessing from the Lord. Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan, and the Lord established a covenant with Him (Genesis 12:1-3). The Lord reaffirmed the same covenant He made with Abraham’s son, Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 26:3-4). Later, the covenant was affirmed with Isaac’s son, Jacob (Genesis 28:14-15).

Dave Jenkins
Why Does God Refer to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

In close to two dozen places in the Scriptures, the Lord is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:15; Acts 7:32). The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is used to emphasize the covenant the Lord God made with Israel, making the Israelites the Lord’s chosen people.

The Purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant and Its Fulfillment

In the Abrahamic Covenant, the Lord repeated the covenant promise to three generations, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All three were promised land, many descendants, and a blessing from the Lord. Abram was called out of Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan, and the Lord established a covenant with Him (Genesis 12:1-3). The Lord reaffirmed the same covenant He made with Abraham’s son, Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 26:3-4). Later, the covenant was affirmed with Isaac’s son, Jacob (Genesis 28:14-15). 

To better understand the significance of these points, consider the following:

  • The Lord is distinguished as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the gods of Egypt.
  • The Lord is distinguished as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because the children of the covenant would inherit the land. 
  • The Promised Land was meant to help remind the people of Israel of the covenant given to Abraham. 
  • In Acts 3, Peter preaches to the Jews in the temple, reminding them that they belong to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 
  • Peter and John heal a lame man, and Peter attributes this miracle to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and gives Him glory (Acts 3:1-13).
  • The miracle with the lame man sets up a bold contrast (Acts 3:13) for the Jews handed Jesus to Pilate to be killed (Acts 3:15).
  • Peter also instructs his hearers that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is fulfilling the covenant of Abraham (Acts 3:25).
  • The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has a plan for the ages involving the Lord Jesus, who provides forgiveness for sins and reconciliation with God.
  • Such a plan was set in motion when God called Abram and blessed him, which was fulfilled when Jesus died and rose again.
  • The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob blessed the nations of the world.

The Calling and Ministry of Moses

When the Lord revealed Himself to Moses before Moses brought the people out of Egypt, the Lord called Himself, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exodus 3:15). Moses was also instructed by the Lord to identify Him as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” to the people of Israel (Exodus 3:16). 

In Exodus 3:6, the Lord identifies Himself as the covenant God who initiated a sovereign relationship with the people of Israel. The Lord wants Moses to recognize the following:

  • The Lord is with His people (Exodus 3:12).
  • The Lord will deliver the people of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 3:8).
  • The Lord has redeemed them for the purpose of worship (Exodus 3:12).
  • God is accomplishing His covenant promises to Israel through Moses.

Moses is understandably under the weight of the calling he receives from the Lord and is looking for a way out. Moses points out his insufficiency (Exodus 3:11), and the Lord points to His all-sufficiency (Exodus 3:12). 

The Sufficiency of God’s Character

Moses then wants to know the name of the Lord. Moses asks the Lord for a revelation of His character so the people of Israel may know who called him. The name given by the Lord to Moses is: “I AM WHO I AM,” which is a revelation of the Lord’s complete and entire sufficiency. 

Theologians refer to the sufficiency of God as the aseity of God, meaning that the Lord alone is of Himself, God. He is the only God, dependent on nothing and no one, and will fulfill His plans, for they will not be thwarted.

How God Has Chosen to Reveal Himself and Why It’s Important

In Exodus 3, the Lord God identifies Himself in two particular ways. First, Moses is told that the Lord is the covenant God who is with His people. Additionally, he is told that the Lord God is a self-existing God who needs nothing to be who he is and to do what God purposes.

The purpose of the burning bush is not to amaze Moses but to display the two-fold character that God announces to Moses. The burning bush illustrates what theologians call the transcendence and immanence of God. The burning bush was a revelation of the I AM God who is and always will be independent and self-sufficient. The Lord God is wholly and entirely God as He promises and plans to “come down” (Exodus 3:8) to be with His people and redeem them. The burning bush also points us forward to the self-existing God who has come as the Immanuel (God with us) in the Lord Jesus (Matthew 1:23; 28:20).

The two-fold character of God described in Exodus 3 is critical to grasp for all those who engage in biblical apologetics. No other religion known to man recognized the full character of a self-existing and sufficient God. The Christian faith and the claims made by Christians holding to a biblical worldview are worth standing for and upon because of the character of God. The two-fold character of God begins and ends with the revelation of God’s majesty through His revealed character in Scripture.

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Originally published November 21, 2019.