Even after hearing God’s call, Moses humbly pressed God for more assurance. In Exodus 3:13 Moses said, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
Names were a big deal for the Hebrews. More than a moniker they described a person’s reputation and character. Moses was asking for a deeper understanding of God’s nature – “Teach me more about yourself. Who are you? What kind of God are you?”
The most common names for God in Hebrew are Elohim and Yahweh. Elohim translated as “God” comes from the root El and means all powerful and mighty. It’s fascinating that Elohim is the plural form of El. Theologians see in this a reference to the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existing as one.
The second name, Yahweh is always translated as “Lord”, and in some versions with all caps. In the Hebrew, it only has four letters, YHWH without any vowels. Imagine trying to read a person’s name with just the consonants. There is a reason for this. For the devoted Hebrew, this was the unspeakable name, too holy to be read aloud. So, when reading through a passage containing YHWH, they substituted the name Adonai instead. It’s worth noting that Adonai like Elohim is also in the plural form, again an allusion to the Trinity.
The word Yahweh, or “Lord” means master, owner, sovereign ruler, and provider. It describes God’s exalted place, but also reveals his personal nature, concern, and involvement with his creation.
So, Moses asked, “Who are you? What is your name?” And, God answered in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM…Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” What an interesting name – I AM WHO I AM. The Hebrew word used here for “I am” is hayah (Think Bruce Lee doing a karate chop). It is also the root word for Yahweh. More than just another title, God gave Moses new insight into the meaning of his name – Yahweh.
In our day, people with a defeated mindset will say, “I am what I am.” In other words, “I am what life, circumstances, and family of origin have made me. It is what it is. It be what it be.” But God said, “I am who I am.” He is who he is. No one created, cultivated, or dreamed up God. He is pre-existent. He has no beginning or end.
While all created things are subject to decay, moving from a state of order to disorder, God never changes. While life speeds by, and sometimes we feel trapped by time, God is never up against the clock.
He is not dependent on anyone. He didn’t need Moses but was inviting him to be his instrument of blessing to bring purpose to his life. God is totally self-sufficient. While everyone wonders when the world will stop turning, and how long the sun will keep burning, God holds the universe in his hand.
He wanted inadequate Moses to have a revelation of his total sufficiency. There is no end to his resources. If Moses needed a bucket, God was ready with an ocean. To summarize, our God is all-sufficient, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, pre-existent, independent, yet compassionate, faithful, and full of love. Some people try to pretend there’s no God, but he is the one reality no one can hide from. He is what he is, the elephant in the room.