Jun 21, 2017

Summer 2017: A Season of Rest; "I AM WHO I AM"

Related:  He IS my EVERYTHING! ~ The Compound Redemptive Names of GOD

Image result for his mouth was agape

So there you are, living out your ordinary, everyday existence and going about your average daily tasks.  Nothing, absolutely nothing has seemed extraordinary.  Your day is like any other "day in the life".

                                                 more work,
                                                                   more coffee
                                                                                      and then it's time to go home to chill for the evening and do it all over again tomorrow. Or perhaps for you it happened when you're out just walking the dog.  The dog is intent on smelling the bushes and dragging you along with him. Suddenly, "Voila" you are thrust into the most extraordinary 'Wizard-of Oz' spectacle that changes your life as you know it.

Something catches your eye, a flash of light, a reflection and when you investigate, you are cast into a situation that makes you captivated, afraid and full of wonder all at the same time.  Something unusual like I'm describing causes you to be too stunned to move and what you view is too captivatingly beautiful to look away.  It's so unusual in fact that all you can do is stare, with your mouth slightly agape.

Image result for st elmos fireThat hasn't happened often to me.  But in a lessor way (and not life-changing), at least several times a year (including last evening) while flying along in my Boeing I can somewhat relate to being dazzled unexpectedly.  Occasionally, I encounter a phenomenon known as St. Elmo's fire. The first time you see it, can seem terrifying, yet beautiful at the same time. It often occurs when I'm expecting it the least.  For the duration it appears, you find yourself totally captivated. If you listen, you might hear a slight hissing or buzzing sound.  Violet and bright blue mini-bolts of lightning-like strands of light-glow and an associated static discharge seem to dazzle and creep all around the front windshields.  I've encountered St. Elmo's in the vicinity of thunderstorm activity when the air is unstable.  I've randomly encountered it in the dry high arctic, thunderstruck prairie or during flight across the rainy Maritimes.  I never fail to be totally entertained by the phenomenon for a minute or two until it disappears altogether and is gone.  In fact it entertains pilots totally once you learn it is a harmless phenomenon.  "Hey, look at that! ...WOW that's amazing!  Rich violet here and look at the bright blue strands over there ...!"   ....and so on.  The electricity appears to be attracted to the current running through tiny wires embedded in our thus heated windscreen, The heated windows keep ice, snow and condensation off our required-vision areas.  

St Elmo's Fire is the same phenomenon that sailers have reported for centuries. Scientists attempt to explain it as "...the electric field causes ionization of the air molecules and produces a glow in low-light conditions, similar to a neon sign.  Earth's nitrogen and oxygen add the color or fluorescence."  And then it's gone.  And you sit smiling and reflect on the images left in your mind.  The northern lights as well are often similarly beautiful to see from the high arctic.

I want you to have those thoughts in your mind as we move into Chapter 3 in the the Book of Exodus. Here we find Moses in a mundane, mid-life time of his life.  We are drawn into this average, everyday scene in an average everyday way.  Suddenly, we see Moses' life become dazzled in a major way.  He's otherwise living out what has become his ordinary, everyday existence in Midian and going about his daily and routine tasks.  That would be...Sheep-herding! 

"Sheep-herding???  Me shepherding at over forty years old?  Where did I go so wrong?" He remarked to himself for the thousandth time that day, "...working for a living like this is way too hard.  Why didn't I back off when I had it so good?  Why did I have to mess up such a good thing?  ... I'm pretty sure they saw me do it."  He kept playing over and over the crime scene he'd run away from years back. "Had it not been for those Egyptians slowly killing my Israelite brothers, I'd never otherwise even think of killing him ~ In fact they were annihilating us as a race.  God let it happen for the past 400 years.  It was obvious He wasn't going to intervene, I had to take matters into my own hands to stop their oppression and bondage." Moses' reasoning was clear he reminded himself.

But other than his musings, to this point in his day, nothing, absolutely nothing seemed extraordinary. He had had this same conversation with himself for many years.  Instead he was now just a foreigner eeking out his living in a foreign land.  In fact it was quite hard.  Recently, he'd found it harder to locate good pasture for the growing herd and today he had wandered just a bit farther than usual into the wilderness.  Now he neared Mt. Horeb, hoping to stumble on a few juicy green pastures for his hungry livestock.  Like any mid-lifer, shepherd-guy, as he guided the sheep along, his thoughts were elsewhere.  He considered his new growing family a few miles away. He munched on the sandwich Zipporah had sent along with him. Together both of them spent alot of time raising Gershom their son. He chuckled to himself at the thought of his young son.  Gershom required quite a bit of attention.  As a growing boy, he seemed to ask so many questions and Moses seemed to always be explaining things to him.  As he hiked along, Moses also reflected on his childhood back in Egypt where he'd been Pharaoh's adopted son, raised in the lap of luxury.

Food, fashion, privilege & sophistication pretty much summed up his teen years. Young adult years gave way to an awareness of his Israelite heritage.  I guess you could say as he matured, there was an unspoken realization that he should be doing something about the plight of his Israelite brethern. But What?  How could he make a difference?  That WAS Moses! But now in mid-life things had taken a major turn and he found himself physically and metaphorically living out an "unplanned-for-desert experience". Yes, ...he now identified as just a sheepherder!

  • A "NOBODY" would be an accurate way to summarily dismiss this guy's life. 

So he continued his trekking, all alone in his self-lament, "...working for a living like this is way too hard.  I never really appreciated how good I had it back in Egypt ~ but after I killed that Hebrew-beater, I can't go back there!"  Absolutely nothing seemed extraordinary here.

... UNTIL he abruptly stopped in his tracks and just stared with his mouth agape.  He couldn't believe what he saw!  Something was burning about 500 feet away.  As he continued to stare, it looked like a bush.  As time went on the bush seemed totally unaffected by the flames.  It burned, but didn't burn up!  What was causing this?  St Elmos's fire?   A lightning strike?  A Bedouin campfire gone bad?
 ...the bible text draws us into the scene witnessed only by Moses.

Image result for moses burning bush

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.
~ Exodus 3

The phenomenon initially stunned and yet attracted Moses. God had all of Moses' attention and began to reveal himself to this wilderness-bound shepherd, seemingly going nowhere in his life...as just a NOBODY.  As this beautiful story unfolds, God speaks to Moses of Who He Is and what He wants to do in Moses life.  It is both dramatic and prophetic.

  • Moses is about to see what God can do with a NOBODY!

So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

Curious and cautious, but not yet fearful he slowly walked towards the flaming bush. From somewhere deep within, he was astonished to hear Someone call him by name!  

4When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

In shock, Moses stopped dead in his tracks, but he really felt like running away to safety.  He felt his mouth fall ajar!  Who in the world is calling MY name? ... I'm miles away from being near any other people?  He stooped to loosen his sandals as the Voice commanded!  ...and yet the booming, commanding voice continued; Now Moses was suddenly very afraid!  At once Moses began to feel his legs tremble with raw fear while simultaneously a shiver went up then down his shaking spine!  Moses felt small and weak as the Voice boomed with it's authority.

 “I am the God of your father,a the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

 Moses is about to meet YAWEH, literally almost face-to-face.  This is actually a defining moment in biblical history.  The burning bush dialogue marks the beginning of God's direct intervention into the affairs of history.  Moses learns that he has been called by God himself to return to Egypt as Israel's Deliverer.  This direct call by God for Moses' obedience will be seen as integral to God's overall plan for mankind, and eventually will usher in the divine plan God has for mankind.  God's plan for mankind is ultimately to offer His own son Jesus 'The Lamb' as this Great Redemption Plan unfolds. The people from the lineage that the Messiah will descend from, are currently locked in bondage in the land of Egypt.  So God has to first find a qualified leader.  ...and then introduce himself to this shepherd.  It's sad to realize here that 400 years enslaved in Egypt have caused this now small NATION to have forgotten the God Who loved them.  Their faith had fizzled out.

This scene and it's narrative is also another biblical first.  This is the first time God has introduced himself in the more personal name Jehovah, or YAWEH in the Hebrew language.  As my personal name is Mark, God's 'personal' name is YAWEH.  (In your bible, YAWEH is always translated in the text as "LORD".)

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12And God said, “I will be with you.

It's fascinating to see how God chooses to introduce Himself.  It's similar to the way God introduced himself to me as a child of nine. Gradually, we learn God's BEING, TRUTH and REALITY.  God starts gradually, by telling Moses "I will be with you".  I can see Moses reaction in my minds eye.   "...so WHO ARE YOU?"  Moses is obviously thinking ahead ~ If he accepts this mission, what is Moses going to say in return when his Israeli brethren and even the Pharaoh question his motives in delivering them from Pharaoh's land. Immediately, they will want to know WHO sent Moses.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”  

Moses is asking God what his name is.  God say's simply "I AM WHO I AM!".   At first God doesn't say his name.

I want to let Pastor John Piper's words take this story from here! :
YAWEH wants Moses to contemplate the fact that God just IS!   

Effectively, he says to Moses "BEFORE you worry and wonder about my name; BEFORE you reflect and compare ME with the now-fabled God of your forefathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob; BEFORE you ponder the pagan gods of Egypt or ancient Babylonia ... and whether they are like ME or not...


  1. "Moses...I want you to know that I AM.           (God didn't answer saying his Name FIRST) "Moses, this is the most basic thing you need to know !!! This is foundational to knowing ME ~ Before knowing my Name!" ~ "I AM" 
  2. God builds a bridge from His BEING to His NAME.  The "One Who Is" is sending you Moses! 
  3. Finally, YAWEH tells Moses his Name!  YAWEH, (the LORD). 

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,d the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’  
        “This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me from generation to generation." (v15).

Image result for "I AM WHO I AM

I like how Pastor/Theologian John Piper considers God's BEING.  Piper says, "I want you to consider ten things that God's Being, "I AM WHO I AM" means to us.  People who are stunned by the reality that "GOD IS", will be a people to whom God loves to come to!  Our triune God loves to stoop down to us in gracious power, where people are blown away by his BEING!  Here's what it means for God to BE God:

  1.  God's Absolute Being means He never had a Beginning. ~ He ALWAYS WAS! This staggers the mind!  A wise parent says to a questioning child, "Nobody made God; God has always BEEN"
  2. God's Absolute Being means God will NEVER end.  He won't go out of Being.  If he never came INTO BEING, He cannot GO OUT of BEING!
  3. God's Absolute Being means God is ABSOLUTE REALITY.  There is no reality BEFORE God; there is No REALITY outside of God (Unless God wills and creates it).  He is not one of many realities.  He is simply THERE; ABOLUTELY THERE!  He is all that was eternally; There was no SPACE, There was No Universe; There was no Emptiness, THERE WAS ONLY GOD.~ ...and that's all there ever was eternally, and there is no room for Emptiness ANYWHERE...Because there is NOWHERE.
  4. Gods' Absolute Being means God is utterly independent. He depends on NOTHING to bring Him into Being, to counsel Him or support Him, or to make Him what He IS. That is what the description of 'Absolute Being' means.  All other being is contingent and dependent ~ That's the opposite of Absolute or Independent. ...so God is Utterly INDEPENDENT!
  5. Gods' 'Absolute Being' means that everything that is not God, depends totally on God.  All that is not God is secondary.  The entire universe is SECONDARY and God Alone is PRIMARY! The Universe came into being by God and stays in being moment by moment by God, on God's decision to keep it in being.  It is utterly, totally fragile and dependent and secondary to God and God holds it in existense every millisecond of it's being.  If God changed his mind it would be NOTHING!
  6. God's Absolute Being all the universe by comparison to God is as nothing. Contingent, dependent reality is to Absolute Independent reality as a Shadow to a Substance; as an Echo to a Thundercloud; as a Bubble to the Ocean.  All that we see, all that we are so amazed by in this Universe is compared to God as NOTHING.                                                                          "Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless  and less than nothing. ~ Isaiah 40:17
    Unless those kinds of truths in the Bible concerning our majestic God land on you and have their appropriate effect, it will mean very little to you when He shows up to save those nations and die for them.  If you try to jump over the statement that they are 'NOTHING to Him', and get to the Cross where he pays the highest possible price for them YOU WON"T GET it. So many people do an end run around the truths in the Bible, on their way to what they are comfortable with!  When they get to where they are going, their foundations on which they stand are razor thin.  Is there any wonder that there are so many fragile Christians in the world?
  7.  God's Absolute Being means He is CONSTANT.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He can't be improved;  He is not becoming anything.  He Is Who He is;  There is no development in God.; There is no progress in God.  Absolute PERFECTION cannot be improved!
  8. God's Absolute Being means He is the Absolute Standard of Truth and Goodness and Beauty.  There is no law book to which he looks to determine what is Right and Just.  There is no almanac to establish the facts for God.  There is no Guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful in art, music or creation.  He Himself IS the Standard as to what is Right, what is True and what is Beautiful.
  9. God's Absolute Being means God does whatever He pleases.  It is always Right and always Beautiful.  There are no constraints on Him from outside that could hinder Him from doing what He pleases.   All Reality that is outside Him, He created, he Designed by Him, and He governs as that Absolute Reality.  He is utterly free from any constraints that don't originate in the counsel of His Own Will.  Therefore being absolutely free, He always does His Good Pleasure and it is always Right and Beautiful.
  10. God's Absolute Being means that he is the most Important and the Most Valuable Reality.  He is the most Important and the Most Important Person that IS.  He is Worthy of your Highest Interest, Your Greatest Attention, Your Deepest Admiration and Your Sweetest Enjoyments, including being Superior in all those ways to the whole Universe.  That is what we believe.  GOD IS. ~ John Piper

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