Here we enter God’s abstract period. Moses brings the flocks up to Horeb, “the mountain of God” (Exod 3:1). God appears to Moses as a fire burning within a bush. Moses heads over to investigate the strange occurrence, and to see why the bush does not burn.
God speaks to Moses, and tells him to remove his sandals. God introduces Himself as “the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exod 3:6). In the New World Translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this whole episode is the point at which God introduces himself as “Jehovah,” as we shall soon see.
God tells Moses that He has heard the cry of the Israelites, and that He has chosen Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses isn’t sure what to make of this.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
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 3:11-14, NKJV
God gives Moses some other commands and gives him details of the plan. Anyone who wants to read all that, just go check out Exodus 3. I’d rather talk about…
The Name of God
I’ve always considered this to be one of the most interesting and possibly one of the most overlooked passages in the Old Testament. Moses imagines a scenario wherein the Israelites ask him, “Oh yeah? You’re so smart, what’s God’s name?”
In the New King James Version, and many others, God responds by telling Moses, “I AM THAT I AM,” or “I AM WHO I AM.” Then God clarifies that His name is “I AM.” I’m going to skip ahead a bit to Exodus 20 because I have a point I’d like to make. Exodus 20 is the chapter that introduces the Ten Commandments, one of which is
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…“
— Exodus 20:7, NKJV
Now what did we just learn is [one of] the name[s] of God? “I AM.” This phrase, “I am,” is one of the most simple declarative statements that a being can make. It tells nothing and yet it tells everything, for it is a simple statement of the fact that one exists. Even though it seems simple, it implies a great deal, for it implies all that we do, say, and experience, for it wraps our very existence into three simple English letters.
But we are not to take the name of God in vain. If a statement conveying the fact of our existence is indeed a name of God… then it is not only the name but our existence itself that we must honor. The very fact that I AM, that I am here today, that I am writing this, that I am reaching out to you… this very truth of my existence is a recognition of God. And it is something that we can all say and recognize.
Do not take your life in vain, for God speaks His own name through your Being.
We are all manifestations of God. God who is the Spirit that flows through us, the Infinite Moment that allows us to live, and the Word that becomes us. Christ is known as the Word Made Flesh, but there is a little bit of Christ within all of us. Though we may not be the blesséd Son of God, we are all His sons and daughters. Just as we carry our biological parents with us in the form of genes and chromosomes, we carry the essence, the Consciousness that is God with us in our mortal forms.
Some Christians have said that we were created to honor and worship God, to give Him praise. This is true, but by living consciously, by experiencing the world and the life that we have each been given, we are honoring God. We are all manifestations of God, and our most basic statement of Being is God’s sacred name.
Everything in the universe, from stars to ants to atoms, is written in the Word. When we open our eyes or our ears, we read the Language of the World. When we touch, when we smell… when we move our bodies and let our emotions soar like eagles… we are experiencing the Language of the World, the Language of God, an infinite interminable sentence that relates every particle, every atom, every rock, plant, human, and star…
The Jehovah’s Witnesses observed that God’s name, written יהוה in Hebrew and often transliterated as YHWH (Yahweh, or Jehovah) appears to be related to the verb “to become.” To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, then, God’s name means “He Causes to Become,” and I find this also strikingly appropriate. Every moment that comes into being, everything that we experience is all manifested within God. We are but different reflections of the same thing, the same infinite force.
One of my favorite phrases that I have mostly forgotten until this moment is the Spanish “Vaya con Dios.”
“Go with God.”
Could it ever be any other way?