The Old Testament book of Exodus opens by noting that in the years following Joseph’s death, a new pharaoh rose to prominence and no longer remembered Joseph’s service or the privilege given to his people. He enslaved God’s people and treated them cruelly, attempting genocide out of fear of their numbers.
The Egyptian empire was the most powerful on earth for an amazing thirteen hundred years, twice as long as the famed Greek and Roman empires. But the pharaoh was worshiped as a god and had no regard for the God of Israel. In Exodus 3 God appears by speaking directly to Moses, promising to deliver his covenant people from slavery. He reveals his tenderness in his powerful protection as he responds to the groaning of his people. In Exodus 3:14, God reveals himself by name, saying, “‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’”
In Hebrew understanding, a name embodies the entire essence and identity of a person. So, in having a name, God revealed himself as a person and gave sacred access to an understanding and experience of his very person. The divine name Yahweh reveals his eternal self-existence. He is a relational being, unchangingly faithful and dependable, who desires the full trust of his people. As he states his name, he reminds Moses and the people of his promise of help for them in covenant faithfulness.
The Hebrews were so afraid of blaspheming God that they would not utter this sacred name, nor would they write it out in full with the vowels. They rendered it YHWH. There has been some debate as to exactly how the name should be spelled and pronounced, but most scholars now recognize that the most likely rendering is Yahweh.
When debating with Jesus publicly about who He was, Jesus said this in John 8:58, “““Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”” Jesus was so clearly declaring Himself to be God that we read in the next verse, “So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” In that day, if someone said they were God, they were to be put to death for blasphemy. But, Jesus was simply stating the truth. Make no mistake: Jesus repeatedly, openly, publicly, and clearly said that He was God.
Do you believe that Jesus is fully God?