God’s people, Israel, are slaves in Egypt. They are being oppressed and their children are being killed. In the midst of all this suffering, they understandably cry out to God for help. And God answers their cries. The last thing we are told before turning to chapters 3 and 4 is that God is about to start moving forward, once again, on the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God Visits Moses
He does so by saving a Hebrew baby from certain death, raising him to power in Egypt, and then bringing him out of Egypt so that God might put a powerful call on his life. That man is named Moses and the call came from a very unexpected place.
Moses was tending his new father-in-law’s flock on a mountain called Horeb, also known as Sinai. Out of nowhere, God appears to Moses and starts speaking. All Moses sees of this voice, though, is something like a burning flame coming from one of the mountain’s bushes.
The voice identifies itself to Moses as the God of Moses’ forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He tells Moses that he is going to do rescue his people from their oppression in Egypt and that he is going to use Moses to do it. The call on Moses’ life is to go back to Egypt, tell Pharaoh to release his slaves, and bring God’s people back to this very mountain to worship him.
God’s Name: I Am
Moses obviously has a lot of questions, but his most important has to do with God’s name. Moses asks what he is supposed to call this God.
God’s answer is, “I Am.” In this whole conversation with Moses, God has been saying “I am” a lot. Most importantly, he has said it alongside two truths.
He has said, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is identifying himself by the interactions and promises has made to the people within Israel’s history. What god is this who is bringing us out of Egypt? The same God who spoke to Abraham and promised to make him a great nation.
God also used this name when he said, I am with you. Here, God is telling us something about who he is in his character and how he will accomplish the promises he made to Abraham. What kind of god is this? A God who is with his people. What kind of god is this? A God who makes good on his promises by accomplishing them with his very presence.
God would be present through saving miracles like the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea that were soon to come.
Where is Jesus?
The good news found in this name goes even further. For the whole world, ourselves included, have been in Israel’s position; crying out for God to save us from our slave masters of death and sin.
Jesus Visits Us
And what happens when God hears the cries of the oppressed? He shows up! God enters into our world in a way that is so much more miraculous than a burning bush. Jesus left the glory Moses saw to become a humble human. Jesus left the holy ground created by his presence to stand on this unholy earth. Jesus did not send an ambassador to set his people free, he came and set us free himself.
In order to answer the cries of the oppressed, Jesus shows up in the biggest way imaginable - as an actual human being.
Jesus’s Name: I Am
Which is why the ultimate expression of God’s name - I Am - is found in Jesus. For not only is Jesus the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he is their promised descendent who would accomplish the all the promises made to them. He is both the promise maker and the promise keeper. He who made the promise to Eve and all her children became one of Eve’s children to keep that promise.
Further, like God was with Moses and Israel to make good on his promises, Jesus was with us in actual flesh and blood, to make good on his promises. And the ultimate saving miracle he performed was not a sign or wonder external to himself, though he did perform those. The ultimate miracle he performed was his death and resurrection. That’s how he is with us! That’s how he keeps his promises! That’s how he saves us! Through his death and resurrection Jesus can say I am with you to keep my promises.
See For Yourself
I pray that his Spirit gives you eyes to see the nearness of the God who is with us to keep his promises, and Jesus as the true embodiment of the I Am, who came even nearer in flesh and blood to complete every promise he made.