In Exodus chapter 3, we read the story of Moses and the burning bush. God told him to go to Egypt and rescue the children of Israel from slavery. Moses ask God, “when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I tell them?”
14. And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, This is what you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
I remember reading this when I was young and thinking it just didn’t sound right. It sounded like it was written wrong. When I got older and had access to different versions of the Bible I noticed a lot of them replaced THAT with WHO so it read “I AM WHO I AM.” Well, that doesn’t sound any better to me.
At the end of verse 14, God says “Tell them I AM has sent you.” He said his name is I AM. Looking back at the first part then, we can see “I AM WHO I AM” is not a good translation. In fact, it changes the whole meaning of the verse.
He was saying, I am THAT “I AM” who your ancestors knew and served. (Exodus 3:6, 15)
Suppose there is a famous man named Rocky Alverson, and we have never seen him before, but we’ve heard a lot about him. When we meet him, and he tells us he is Rocky Alverson, we might ask him this famous question: THE Rocky Alverson? That’s what God was telling Moses. “I AM THAT I AM that they have heard of. I AM is my name. I am That I AM, or The I AM.” That’s why we sing songs about The great I AM. It’s his name.
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