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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Name of God

I was reflecting on Exodus 3.14 & 15 today, and I was struck by God's naming himself.

God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM' [or 'I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE']. 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": This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.' (NRSV)

There is much here that bears noticing and mentioning, but what especially struck me today was that there is a double self-naming here. First, of course, the Lord names himself as YHWH, the elusive 'I AM WHO I AM' (or even more elusive '...WHO I WILL BE'). The Lord cannot be possessed or controlled; he is no idol. But secondly, the Lord our God names himself by his followers, by the members of his covenant: this is a two-part answer to the question of 'who are you?'. And so this is not at all a god in splendid isolation, high and distant from the creation, but a God who takes identification from the creation and incorporates it into himself. This is done in freedom, of course, but it is also a deep expression of his love and holiness together, and reflects the singular glory of the Lord. The Lord is amazing.

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