Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God…
Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, 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 is My memorial-name to all generations.” [Exodus 3:1-6, 13-15]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.“ [John 17:3-12]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What if… one day you awoke, got your coffee, sat down to share it in company with God, and He were to ask you…
“What is My Name?”
(Now, granted, that hardly seems a fair question when you’re still working on your first coffee… but nonetheless….)
So… here you have His question, and imagine that you haven’t just been prompted by the scripture passages that open this post. Your mind may go to the Isaiah texts… Mighty Counselor, Prince of Peace, Wonderful, Marvelous, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father… or you may think of Jesus’ words and names for the Holy Spirit… Teacher, Comforter, Paraclete… and so on.
For myself, that’s where my mind/spirit went… all these NameS for God. Coffee or no, it seemed as if all of them flew through me in the same moments. Along with all these descriptions of Him… love, truth, goodness, beauty, life, light, righteousness, justice, peace… all that… along with the simpler way Jesus commanded us to address God in prayer… simply “Our Father”, or, more accurately “Daddy”, “Papi”, “Papa”, or “Da” (some affectionate diminutive paternal form).
Over the next few minutes, as Jesus unfolded some petals of the Rose He had for me that day, along with lingering echoes and after effect ripples for several days after… I came to look upon this question and these answers in a new way, and I thought I’d share them here, and see what you all think, and what your hearts may respond…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All those “Names” (plural) for God, as noted in scripture are indeed true, good, and right. Yes.
However, when Moses asked the point blank question, God answered with a response of ultimate simplicity and unity.
“I AM who (I) AM.”
Now, that’s just a simple answer. Isn’t it?
But, wait a moment. It is SUCH a simple answer that we sometimes fail to give it much consideration. What does that really say? That’s what the Lord challenged me with, along this ponder. Just to stop a moment and consider what this really means, as I understand the English language.
What can be said about these two words? Well, they are the first expression of a “conjugation” of the verb “to be”. Remember? “I am”, “you are”, “he/she/it is”, “we are”, “you (ya’ll) are”, “they are”? (I know, sorry about that, I don’t mean to trigger any unpleasant 8th grade flashbacks, but this will be meaningful in a moment…) And if you hold a moment, hovering over the concept of “to be” as an Infinitive… it really gets rather impressive. To be, to exist, in any time, in any manner, for any duration, in any form… EVER. Whether physical or not, spiritual, conceptual, potential or actual… ALL that covered by the infinitive “to be”. What’s more, GOD is the “I” form… the First Person Singular.
That was rather where this whole ponder led at its apex… “God is the Ultimate First Person Singular, who gives meaning to the verb “to Be”.
That is God is One, Whole, Undifferentiated, Indivisible, condition of possibility for Existence as a Whole.
We humanly tend to image the Father as a central Power Figure (“God”) like a wondrous Christmas Tree, and then hang all these Names on Him as characteristics…. reminds me of the ornaments hung all around the trunk.
This alternative is more like the Sun, center of our solar system. Composed of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, heavy metals, all sorts of stuff… burning in constant fusion and fission emitting light, heat, gamma radiation, alpha and beta as well… all those characteristics… but from the perspective of the Sun itself… it simply IS. It’s the Sun. It does what the Sun does, all at once, by its very nature. You can’t “parse it” and make any sense of it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
That… is a tough thought to ponder. But the Lord brought me to realize that there is a huge and fundamental difference between the true statements that “God is Good”, “God is Counselor”, “God is Righteous”, “God is Loving”, “God is Merciful”… ALL these totally TRUE statements… but all of them “incomplete”. As soon as you specify a quality that God has, in a sentence, you grammatically exclude many other equally true statements. As human beings, we tend to bridge this gap with the words “if” or “but”. “God is Love”..BUT “God is Righteous”. or “God is Merciful” BUT “God is Just”. And so on.
The Lord preferred that I not “add to scripture” in this way. Let these true scriptural insights on the nature of God just stand on their own, and absorb the paradox without trying to reconcile it. And second, that I try to step back and embrace God’s actual SELF Definition… the “I AM”.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Now, to draw this rather suddenly to a close… spend a bit of time just letting the universe and the word “God” expand to the very limits of the infinitive “to be”… and then let that set of petals lead to the second passage… that the Father gives this very name both to Jesus…
According to John 17…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
More on this later… grace to thee! — The Little Monk