And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. – Exodus 3:13-14 (KJV)
If we are going to seek God first in all things, it is a good idea to seek Who He is. I mean Who He really is. Because I believe we do not give the Lord the true reverence He deserves. He is our friend in the sense that, when we follow Him, we are no longer His enemy. He is not our buddy. He is no one’s sugar daddy, existing merely to fulfill our every spoiled whim. And – sorry ladies – regardless of what an awful lot of Christian pop songs may claim, Jesus is not your boyfriend.
Moses met God – as close to face-to-face as humanly possible:
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. – Exodus 3:1-6 (ESV)
I really wish I had used the King James for the above passage because, as everyone knows, when God speaks, He uses King James English. (That was a humor folks.)
Notice: we are to approach God with awe and respect. Try to imagine how Moses must have felt, in the burning presence of the Lord. He didn’t even know how to describe God to the Israelites. And, it is here (Exodus 3:14) that God reveals exactly Who He is: I AM THAT I AM.
In capital letters.
God does not exist. He is existence. We did not create God (although, Lord knows, we’ve tried). He created us. God is not an abstraction. He is real. Very real. Very in control.
Now, think about it. God is immeasurably far and above each of us. He could have chosen to stay distant, to (as deists believe) create the world, set it spinning on it’s axis, and float away, off to the next project. And, considering the episode with Adam and Eve and the serpent and the introduction of sin… I mean, honestly, God gave them one command (“Do not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”) and they couldn’t even do that! God had every right at that very moment to wipe them all out and start again.
But He didn’t. Because God – this incomprehensibly massive being (and I struggle to even find words that are sufficient, and obviously fell short) – loves us. And He chose to make a way for us to be able to have the relationship with Him that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden.
So, through His Word, God reveals Himself to us. The Old Testament is replete with names for God that tell us of His wondrous attributes. Here are a few, from The Blue Letter Bible website:
- El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
- El Elyon (The Most High God)
- Adonai (Lord, Master)
- Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
- Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
- Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
- Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
- Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
- Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
- Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
- El Olam (The Everlasting God)
- Elohim (God)
- Qanna (Jealous)
- Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
- Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
- Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
I once taught a class on the names of God in the Old Testament and, wow… the way God reveals Himself is amazing. Notice that all of these names show how God relates to us.
But it is in the New Testament that it all comes together. Jesus was truly the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the Messiah, God incarnate Who came not to offer sacrifice on our behalf, but to be our only acceptable, perfect, substitutionary sacrifice for us.
And, again, none of this is abstraction. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection on the third day following is historical fact, not allegory. That puts pay to all the Old Testament promises of a coming Messiah.
And, to put a more personal point on this, we must recognize that God – the Burning Bush that never went out, the Great I AM, Existence Himself, the cause of and reason for everything – is also “Abba, Father”. Abba is a very personal Aramaic term Jesus used to describe the Father. It means “papa”. It is a term of personal affection.
And He is not just Jesus’ Father. He is our Father, too.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:14-19 (ESV)
The terms used are Roman legal terms. We are literally adopted by God as His children. Put it all together and we see that God is approachable. We can go to Him – indeed we are expected to do just that – about anything. But we need to understand the might and awe of our Father and maintain a healthy fear (respect) for Him. We need to seek God with an understanding of our place and His. We are on the receiving end of much undeserved love, grace and mercy.
There is one more aspect of God to discuss (only one???), but I have gone on long enough. Please come back tomorrow, will you?
Study Resources :: The Names of God in the Old Testament. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm