“A Lesson in God’s Name” (Series: Five on Five)
Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15
Exodus 3 describes the encounter between the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses. In this burning bush encounter, God reveals his name to Moses. What we learn is that God’s name reveals something of his nature and his nearness. God’s name discloses realities about himself that Christians today can draw much encouragement from.
Having run away from Egypt where he had once killed a man, Moses is out in the wilderness tending his father-in-law’s flock when God appears. God commissions him to return to Egypt to deliver Israel from slavery. It’s understandable why Moses asks, “Whom am I that I should go…?” Moses is uncertain and hesitant. The task is too great for him. But apparently God does not agree. This isn’t because God sees something special in Moses but because he pledges that he will be with Moses. When we feel inadequate and insufficient to do the things God calls us to, it’s far better for Christians to discover something about God than about ourselves. It’s far better to have a God who covers our weakness with his strength instead of cheerleading for us despite our weakness.
God reveals himself with two further descriptions before he actually reveals his name. He calls himself “I Am Who I Am” and “I Am.” Both of these derive from the Hebrew verb “to be.” They further help us understand the nature of God revealed in his name which is The LORD or Yahweh. This name is also derived from the verb “to be.” By revealing himself with this name, God shows us three things about his nature.
First, God is eternal. He is without beginning and end. He created time and is therefore himself timeless. This means nothing good in God ever fades. His love doesn’t grow dim, his mercy doesn’t dry up, and his strength never fails. When everything else in the world has an expiration date, the great I Am is eternal.
Second, God is unchanging. He is perfect in every way and therefore doesn’t change and can’t change. “Variation in God would spell the death of his own perfection” (Matthew Barrett). This means he, his Word and promises are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Therefore he will never his mind about those he has committed to love and save. The great I Am is eternal.
Third, God is self-existent. He does not depend on anything outside of himself to be. God is like the flames from the bush that did not consume the bush. The fire existed independent of the fuel. So God exists in this way. This means he did not create us or the world because he needed to but because he desired to. He is motivated by love and not dependence. The great I Am is self-existent.
But the incredible news of the gospel is that this transcendent God is also immanent. He is infinite but also intimate. He draws near to see the afflictions of his people, hear their cries and know their sufferings. Although in Exodus 3 the great I Am showed up a fire, in the gospel the great I Am shows up in flesh. In the person of his Son Jesus who came to draw near to us. Jesus claims in John 8:58, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus is the covenant Lord who came to be the crucified Lord so that he can deliver us from slavery to sin and death. Jesus Christ is the LORD come to be near his people. The name “Yahweh” reveals God is far greater than we can ever imagine but the name “Jesus” reveals God is far closer than we could ever hope for.
Suggested Group Discussion Questions
- Have you ever felt like Moses and had an experience where you became acutely aware of your own insufficiency and inadequacy? What helped you through this? Was it discovering something about yourself or about God? Share.
- Which of the three attributes of God (eternal, unchanging, self-existent) most sticks out to you? Why? How can knowing this about God encourage you? Begin to apply this into something concrete in your life.
- Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate, and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon?
- Response: Formulate a one-sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.