Moses’ encounter at the burning bush is a pivotal moment in the Bible. Standing on holy ground in the presence of God, Moses hears God’s deep concern about the suffering of his people in Egypt. The moment also marks the beginning of Moses’ call to lead the people of Israel. Most important, Moses learns the name by which God wants to be known and worshiped by his people—YHWH (Yahweh): “I AM WHO I AM.”
Written with only the consonants, this name YHWH was the most sacred name of God to the Israelites. Because they avoided saying this holy name, its exact pronunciation has been lost. Eventually the word for “Lord” was always spoken instead of the proper name, so wherever YHWH occurs, our English Bibles today use the word “LORD” (printed with small capital letters).
God tells Moses to tell the Israelites in Egypt that Yahweh, “I AM,” has sent him. What does this name mean? Some point to God’s self-existence, not being dependent on anything else. Others highlight God’s immutability, that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
While these qualities reveal something about the name “I AM,” they overlook the context of the story. At the burning bush, Yahweh reveals his name “I AM” as a declaration: “I will be with you.” Yahweh, the covenant God, keeps his promise to never leave or forsake us.
We worship You as the eternal I AM. In a world that is always changing and undulating like the waves of a stormy sea, You never change. You are ever-present and always relevant because You are always current. You are never the I Was or the I Will Be. We are confident that Your greatness and power are the same yesterday in Creation, in the Exodus, in the Cross, in the Resurrection and in the Ascension of Jesus, on the Day of Pentecost, as they are in our day, as they will be at The End of time. Your greatness and power have not been diluted or depleted over the ages. You are our Anchor in the midst of the disasters rocking this planet and this nation. You are I AM. Yahweh, we praise you for your faithfulness to all your people, including us. Help us to live faithfully for you. In Jesus, Amen.