|The Covenant God of "I am who I am"|
THE GOD OF “I AM”
(Exo 3:13 NKJV) 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?"
(Exo 3:14 NKJV) 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.'"
(Exo 3:15 NKJV) Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD 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, and this is My memorial to all generations.'
The new US Republican leader/ House of Representative speaker, John Boehner, vehemently declared “I am who I am”, when asked to quit his bad habit of smoking. In the context of being asked to consider a change for the better, the term “I am” is a declaration of his right not to change, and that he would not be apologetic of who he is and what his character make up is. It is a declaration of an unchanging absolute that this is who I am, above the voices that one should be this or that.
Perhaps, only God can rightfully use the term “I AM” and for John Boehner to declare himself to be “I AM” perhaps he is reiterating his new found power as the Speaker in the House of Representatives where the Republicans have a large majority. In the context of not changing from the bad habit of smoking, perhaps he is suggesting that he is beyond reproach and even arrogant having the right to do what is wrong.
The term “I am who I am”, carries it with a declaration of power and authority. It is the right “to be” without the need to explain oneself or the need to change. It is beyond the denial of others and beyond the right of others to define or to influence. One has the right “to be” only if there was no higher authority above us (or that we have received this absolute certainty from God Himself). When God declares “I am who I am”, He is saying that He is beholding to no one, and that He is the ultimate reality with none above Him in power, glory and wisdom. He is above all the gods and deities that was worshiped then and today. God did not want to be worshiped by works and sacrifices, but the relationship with Israel was instead to be based on a covenant faith.
When the children of Israel was asking “What is His name”, what were they asking? What is in a name? The name of a god tells us his realm, the extent of his authority, how he expects to be worshiped and the blessings in return. For example, Baal was the fertility God, and people would approach God bringing and sacrificing their first born child in a gruesome sacrifice in the hope of receiving a good crop. Therefore, when the children of Israel was asking “what is His name”, they were actually asking what is the sacrifices does God expects, and what are the blessings in return. They had wanted to based their relationship with God on religion, based on works rather than by faith.
God didn’t answer the question posed by Moses, but simply re-iterated his infiniteness beyond the theological constructions that the people of Israel wanted to define God. God was refusing to be defined by others, to be put in a box of what He can and cannot do. The only message God wanted to tell the children of Israel that He was a God faithful to His covenant with Abraham and his descendents, hence to be called “ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. The Abrahamic Covenant was a Covenant of Grace, ie that God takes it upon His own to bless Abraham and His descendents by grace not that they had deserved it by any works of their own.
In the 21st century, we tend to rationalize God. God is love we say, which is true. But God is also a God of righteousness that will not let injustice go unpunished nor our sins go unaccounted for. Surely God is not a blood thirsty God who wants to see suffering and people in hell we may proclaim, but God does not need to explain Himself or be defined by us . Can we call ourselves god or “I am who I am” as if the world centers around us? How can the “created” demand the right to be called by the same name as the “creator”!
The other extreme is no better – an over emphasis on the righteousness of God being lived out as coming strongly against sin. They are unable to explain why a God of Love created gays with an innate sexual orientation for the same sex when seemingly the act in bible they interpret as “sin”. They had confined God into a very narrow box attempting to force an ancient religious, social, and historical construction into a different 21st century context of same sex orientation. When we come against gays, we have become gods wielding our specter in the judgment seat.
Perhaps God is beyond our simple theological construction. Must everything be black and white, or can we have a space that God’s love, mercy and grace exist, for the God to be the God of “I am”. When Jesus came down on earth, He came and operate in that space of grace contrary to the law minded religious zealots who failed to see God even though they knew the bible inside out.
(Gen 1:27 NKJV) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
We tend to define God after our own image, and in a society where 95% are straight, God becomes straight and in our mind Gays are unnatural and against God’s best intentions! Yet, we have forgotten that God is neither male nor female. We have made God, a male orientated, patriarchal heterosexual God after our own image! and this is a “sin” because we have made ourselves god and no different from idol worship.
We have forgotten that God is the God of “I am” and that we are the image of God and not vice-versa. When God created humankind as male and female, it is not God is genderless, but that the nature of God encompasses the wide range of humanity, all in the same God. When God created Gays as innate and beautiful, it is within His image and the vastness of His infinite glory and wisdom, and not something that He needs to explain to us.
When God said to Moses to tell the children of Israel that “I am who I am”, God is far beyond the limited theological construction that Israel had. It is not that the character of God could not be defined or His will and purposes are not known, but God became a multifaceted God – a God of Love, yet a God of righteousness. A God of justice, yet a God of mercy. A God of judgment, yet a God of grace.
Let me be known said God to Moses as a Covenant God, the Covenant of Grace that God instituted with Abraham, the covenant of grace by faith and not by works. It is an everlasting covenant that will ultimately be the basis of how God deals with mankind, and we as Christians are join into this covenant by faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, the God “I am”, became in each one of our lives a very different manifestation, for some the “I am” becomes “I am the Lord that healeth thee”, and others, “I am the Lord your God who loves you and accepts you”, and as for me, “I am the Lord God your friend and Saviour”. God is known not so much as by our worship of God and the blessings He give us, but by a relationship and fellowship rooted in a Covenant of grace.
At the end, the basis of our relationship with God remains unchanging in a changing world that “I am a Covenant God”! through Jesus Christ. "I will be their God", and "They will be my people" says the Lord of Host.
In Jesus Christ we are joined into the promises of God in Abraham. Today, what are the blessings do you need God for in your life. Are you lonely, do you need a friend, do you need an assurance that God is for you and not against your sexual orientation, .... Today God calls us by faith to declare; "I am the God who loves you", "I am the God who accepts you just as you are", "I am the God who ....."