11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
There’s a wonderful song I love, entitled, “Who am I?” The lyrics begin, asking, “Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?” In a sense, that’s what Moses asked of God – who am I that you should seek me out, that you would want me to go to Pharaoh to ask that the Hebrew people, trapped in slavery, should be set free? Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth should approach me, should believe me able to carry out God’s plan, should think that I am in anyway worthy to hear the voice of God?
God goes on to assure Moses that God will be with him. God tells Moses that when his people have been set free, they will worship God on this holy mountain. Moses has cold feet about his ability to accomplish God’s work. He is afraid the people will not accept him as God’s messenger, and asks God for his name.
That was an audacious move on Moses’ part, to want to know God’s name. To know one’s name is to have a measure of power over another person. But God replies, saying, “I am who I am.” YHWH. These are the consonants in Hebrew for Yahweh; the vowels are left off in Hebrew and God’s name is never said aloud. Instead, the word LORD is substituted, or Adonai in Hebrew, whenever God’s name is spoken. Moses wondered who he was and oftentimes we echo the same – “Who am I?” Yet God always knows who God is – “I am who I am.” God knows us, loves us, makes good plans for us, and saves us.
Gracious God, we give you all praise, for you who are LORD of all this earth are far above us and greater than us. Yet you have bound yourself to us. You allow us to know your name. You come to us in the person of Jesus. You love us and save us and forgive us and grace us with work to give honor to your name. Let us give you this day our hearts and our thanks, in Jesus’ name. Amen.