20 March 2022 3rd Sunday of Lent
But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.
From Exodus 3:1-8,13-15, NRSV
Moses had been assured by God that he would not be alone in carrying out the task of freeing the people of Israel from Egypt. However, Moses still needed some convincing. He sensed that he would need to have some authority if he was to to speak to the Hebrews and so asked God what answer he should give if challenged to say who had sent him. The first answer given by God was “I am who I am”. This may seem slightly puzzling but has been taken to mean that God relies on nothing else for existence and that nothing or no-one else is God’s equal – God simply “is”, “was” and always will be. God also told Moses to say he had been sent by “The Lord”. This is likely a substitute for the Hebrew name “Yahweh” for which there is no direct translation. This was a name known both to Moses and to the people of Israel. Hearing this sacred name would remind the Hebrews of the faith of their ancestors and show that God was speaking to them through Moses. This reassurance of the Lord’s presence could not have come at a better time for the Israelites – an oppressed group of immigrants with no home, land or status.
- Why do you think Moses needed the people of Israel to know that God had sent him to them?
- What difference does it make to do or say something in God’s name and who is able to do this?
Many names such as Lord, Alpha and Omega, Abba, Deus, King, Almighty, Theos are used when referring to God. You may like to spend some time finding out about the meaning and origin of some of these names.