And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)
Finding an image that is appropriate to the name Yahweh is impossible. I realised once again during my search that there is absolutely nothing in Heaven or on Earth that can even begin to illustrate this very first name of God – translated Jehovah in the King James version and which the Jews regarded as so holy that they only pronounced or wrote the consonants, YHWH. Even before we begin to explore and meditate on the wonderful names of God, we encounter this fundamental truth, one which must surely inspire awe at greatness, glory, holiness, and pefection of the God we serve. I finally select a simple image of something that perhaps comes close – His Word, which will endure forever.
While even the Word of God does not fully represent Him in image form, it does provide us with every single name and every single truth that ‘defines’ Him in terms we can understand and relate to. The issue is not the Word is imperfect, but rather that our limited understanding can only comprehend in limited terms. I personally don’t believe that we will ever fully grasp the vastness that is God. But we can, through His Word, explore and get to know what we need to build trust, faith, and a loving, obedient relationship with Him.
Yahweh is Jehovah and finds its definition within the I AM of God.
It’s the starting point of so many of the names He has called Himself, each of which manifests a particular part of His nature or character. In essence, if we were to ask ‘what is God’s name?’ the first response would be Jehovah. If we were to ask what that means, the response would be ‘I AM.’ Right at the very beginning, God states unequivocally that, while we may grasp aspects of Him through His name, His entire character and nature is, ultimately, indefinable. In simple terms, He simply is. To understand this, we should look at the implications of I AM.
I AM tells us that God was in beginning. He didn’t ‘start’ anywhere. He was already in existence. Nothing happened to bring Him into being. He wasn’t created, He wasn’t conceived, and He wasn’t dependent on anything to make Him a reality. He precedes thought, imagination, creation, and chaos.
This means that He has no end. Just as nothing caused Him to be, so nothing can cause Him to ‘unbe.’ Because He was not created, He cannot be destroyed. The fact that nothing in Heaven or on Earth had any effect or influence on His existence means that nothing can end His existence.
No beginning and no end means He is eternal. His very existence is, in a sense, eternity. He is greater than both the beginning and the end of everything else, and He sees it all as if it were in the present. He is not limited by time, or space, or physical conditions.
God essentially defines reality. Everything exists within His thoughts, His words, His actions, and His will. Without Him nothing can be created, and everything is held in place by His will that it be so. Whatever reality we know existed first in God Himself, who then brought it into being. Our reality is entirely dependent on the reality of God.
Because of all of these things, God is unchanging. Nothing can alter who and what He is. He neither needs us nor depends on us, and though we will come and go, He will be same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
This is just the beginning of I AM. Yahweh or Jehovah contains all these truths, but it also contains a whole lot more. Because of this fundamental nature of God, a nature He has made manifest to His people, I AM also applies to the totality of His relationship with us. Just as His existence is absolute and complete, so His existence in our lives is absolute and complete. This is what He was essentially saying to Moses – I AM the God who is able and willing to meet every single human need because I AM perfect, I AM complete, I AM all-powerful, I AM invincible, I AM unchanging, I AM eternal, I AM quite literally every single thing you can ever think of.
Wow. As we look at the various names of God over the following devotionals, we need to keep this one in mind. Every single other name He revealed is directly connected and built on this single truth – I AM. No other name can be regarded as being independent. They all draw their value and relevance from ‘Jehovah who is.’ Every name of God can be prefaced with the understanding of I AM in its entirety. In Jesus, this is wonderfully revealed. Through Christ the I AM of His nature and existence is applied to our lives by grace. His I AM is for us, towards us, and in us, not through our own selves but only through full identification with Christ.
It’s always difficult to define and explain the full meaning of God and of His names, which is why He chooses to reveal Himself through different names which illustrate specific attributes. The truth is that the sum total of all of these and our limitied understanding could never even begin to comprehend the vast I AM of God. The real truth – the one we can take hold of with joy and thanksgiving and awe – is the He is unchanging, unshakeable, indestructible, and eternal, and He has chose to be our God. Personal intimacy with Him is the greatest gift imaginable.
The nature and truth of I AM is our eternal security as well as security in the here and now. This is the God who is in us, even when we are threatened, beaten, broken, or betrayed. This is the God who is ‘for us,’ the God who will never leave us nor forsake us, the God of exceedingly, abundantly. This is our rock, our joy, our strength. When everything else seems to be shaken and upended, as is collapsing all around us, we have the great I AM on whom we can depend.
How great is Your love and grace, Lord, that You choose to interact with us. We acknowledge our insignifance, and give You all praise and honour and glory. We lift You up and magnify Your name, Lord of All, the great I AM.