In the name of God – there is much. Help, hope, comfort, healing, life and the way to salvation are all in the name of the Lord. Today, and for last 2044 years, his name has been Jesus. And there was a reason for having a name. This offering isn’t about the name, that name, but, rather about God having a name. Let me explain further. Before the name Jesus there was another name used by the Hebrews and it still is today; the name YEHWAY. The story of that name obviously deserves a study and telling of its own but, this is not it. What’s in name, in a name for God? I believe there were ignorance and insult and shame!
I want to go back to the first encounter of God by Moses. The story is of course famous and involves the burning bush that just burned and was not consumed. Moses approached the bush and God spoke to him. God told him to not come close, to remove his shoes, and:
Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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 upon God.
Was Moses paying attention? I’m sure he was but, it would seem that he had a problem with comprehending what God had just said. In Moses’ defense I have no doubt what-so-ever that he stood there with not only gapping mouth but gapping mind as well, trying to fathom what was happening. His focus had to be affected by the enormity of the moment. And God apparently did not stop to let Moses catch up, He continued with what He came for. In short, He told Moses that He had come down to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Moreover that He was going to send Moses to accomplish this task. Not legions of angels, not an earthly army, just Moses. He did finally agree to enlist the help of his brother Aaron.
Now, as I “imagine” again, I can certainly conceive of Moses just having to take a breath, to gather himself. And I can see him conversing within himself ‘How am I going to convince anyone that I even talked to God, little lone rescue all of Israel.’ So, perhaps this was his thought, and his unfocused frame of mind, as he posed the question:
Exodus 3:13 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?
Although he was raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter and in the “Egyptian way”, Moses by this time certainly had become a Hebrew of the times. He probably knew the people would ask exactly that question. But, do you think he would just simply ask it for himself, for his own knowledge. God thought he did. Look at the next verse, in two halves:
Exodus 3:14 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.
I think God knew this was a question for the benefit of Moses himself. OK, sorry, of course He knew! What I mean to say is that I think the verse shows us that fact. If you look at it you’ll see that God didn’t tell Moses what to say until after He had addressed the question. Not answered but, addressed the question. Looking at this further, there is more to see. I see ignorance on the part of Moses for posing the question. I see indignation on the part of God, mild anger, if you will. You may have noticed Gods’ reply is in all capital letters. It’s in the Book that way, I didn’t make that up. There must have been something in the scrolls that compelled the translators to put a clear emphasis on this statement. I have to say I agree with this because, while I do not study the scrolls, I can clearly feel the emotion of that moment. I know that it was a burning bush and not a storm cloud but, every time I read those capital letters the rumbling in my mind is loud and clear!
The fact that Moses and/or the people wanted a name for God had to be of great insult to God. I can see that, too, in His response. I am THAT I am; THAT being – God! Not a God, not just your God but, The God, the only God. Think about your own name for a moment; not what it is but, why you have it, why you need it? I need to know your name so I can address you in a crowd. I need to know it to identify you as the one I’m talking about when conversing with others. You need to be identified so the bank will cash your check. And ALL of this is simply because you are NOT the only human on the planet. We have to separate ourselves from each other in a way that is individual to each of us, and that is the purpose of a name.
Can you see God’s anger yet? Can you feel the shame I feel when I think about this passage. The people wanted to name God! Oh, I suppose they were kind enough to let Him choose His own but …still. Why give God a name? Give Him a name so you can call Him out from all the other Gods? Give Him a name so you can label Him on the shelf among all your false idols? Instead of lifting God up you would lower Him to these levels? It was not until some time later that God made these statements but, they were certainly true at that moment:
Isaiah 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Many people have chosen to call God ‘The Great I AM’, after the second half of verse 14. I think this honors God’s sovereignty and singleness but, it was still not given as a name. It was a furtherance of His “one God only” declaration. I AM hath sent you. The ONE that exists among NO others has sent you.
Now, God did finally did give a phrase that He Himself called a name but, it was clearly more a descriptive statement of who He was. It also provided an attachment from God to the generations of the three persons named therein. Not an attachment, or relationship, they claimed but, that God claimed.
Exodus 3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
The word memorial, as used here, means a remembrance, a record, and account. God was saying this statement is a record, an account, of who I am. And you may call me, and converse about me, by this record. And by use of this record, each time you will bring to your remembrance THAT I AM, and not just a name!
Remember back at the beginning I asked if Moses was paying attention? If you’ll look at verse 6 again you’ll see that God already told Moses His “name”, and then had to repeat Himself. It would seem the Lord really is long suffering with those He loves.
May the Lord Bless you all, In Jesus Name! (Oh, another name.)