Two small words we use to identify ourselves. I am a college student. I am a teacher. I am a sister and daughter, but this phrase is more than all that. It is the holy name of God, one of the holiest from which we get the words Yahweh and Jehovah. While it may seem simple at first, it has a complex meaning that shows the timeless sovereignty of our God.
The first time this name is used is in Exodus 3, where Moses encounters the burning bush. God had called Moses to return to Egypt, a where his people were enslaved but he had fled. The people had been waiting to one day return to the land the Lord had promised to their fathers. When asked, God reassures Moses to tell the people he is “I am”.
Later, Jesus also refers to himself as the “I am”. When the pharisees are questioning him, he responds “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Jesus is claiming He is God, and that He has been here much longer than even the earth. He is the “I am”, not the “I used to be”. He stays consistent. Even before God had promised the land the Israelites would have one day, the plan was already set, the redeemer knew what would be done. He knew mankind would fall away with sin and would need a savior. He stepped in for us before we were even born.
See, the name “I am” refers to the fact that He is the God who always was, is, and is to come. He is the God of our past, present, and future. He knew everything about you before the earth was even created (Ephesians 1). He was there for any hardships you went through, your entire life he has loved you (Psalm 139). He was God when the earth was made and when man entered into sin. He has seen the worst of humanity yet still sent His son to save us. He is the I am who always was. The I AM who got you through those hard nights. The I AM who saw that the greatest penalty was headed for you and moved into the line of fire to shield us. There is nothing too big for this sovereign creator.
“I AM” shows that He is God in the present. As you go to work and go about your day, even as you are reading this, the same God of the Bible is the God who stands by His children. Sometimes we look around and all we see are the horrors of this world. We see the ugly side of depraved humanity bent on sin. While it may still seem hard to understand or see, God is still in control. He is the great “I AM,” so to him a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8). We may see the ground view and only what is ahead, but he not only sees the big picture, he is in control of it. So even when we feel discouraged, we know that God is in control, and He promised that all things will work together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). All we need to do is cling to Him.
“I AM” also shows that God will always be. He is the God of our future, as well as our past and present. This past semester I was in a Bible study with a group of awesome girls. They were strong and growing in the faith, and at the end of the night we always took prayer requests. Every time almost everyone would ask for prayer about their future, be it academics, jobs, internships, etc. These people were committed to God, but still had doubts and worries about what was next in their life, and that was ok. Personally, I tend to really struggle with this concept. I like controlling my life and having a plan and a back up plan. But ultimately, those could all be derailed in one second or one incident. Maybe you have experienced a sudden change like this in your life. Maybe you are living in fear of the future or uncertainty. But the I am of the Bible, the God of the then and now, is also the God of your future. As I said earlier, even when we do not know where we are headed, God does. He already won the battle, and for those who seek Him, He is always our end game, our soul is secure in heaven with God.
“I AM”. Two words so holy that when Jewish scribes wrote the Hebrew translation, “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”, in the Bible they took certain precautions (like changing pens and taking a bath). God, the great I AM, who always was and is to come. This was God’s identifier. I am a child of God. No matter what happens or how my outward life changes, this identity will remain. He is the only one solid enough to stand my identity on.