I Am and I Will.
Exodus 5-6, Matthew 28
“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.” – Exodus 6:6-8 ESV
There are two primary problems that all men share when it comes to God. First, is His very existence. Men struggle with knowing whether God actually exists or not. They doubt and debate it. Many simply deny it. But for those who come to the realization that God is real, the next problem becomes whether or not He is actually at work in our world. They believe in God, but doubt His promises and question His ability to intervene in the everyday affairs of their lives. This section of God’s story, found in the book of Exodus, reveals God attempting to convince men of both His existence and His power to do what He says He will do. The Israelites had been living in Egypt for over 400 years. They had been “Egyptianized.” They had grown comfortable with and close to all the gods of the land of Egypt. They had little or no relationship with the God of their ancestor, Abraham. Much of what happens in the book of Exodus is about God trying to convince His own people of His presence and power. They had to be convinced that He was the one true God and that He had the power to fulfill the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
What does this passage reveal about God?
He is the great “I Am.” He is Yahweh, the singular and solitary God of the universe. There are no other gods beside Him. He alone is God. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is not only the creator of the universe and all it contains, He maintains complete control over everything in it. But the Israelites didn’t know all of this at the time. They viewed God as just another diety in a long line of gods. Pharaoah had no concept of Moses’ God and stated, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2 ESV). He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, and instead, upped the pressure on the people of Israel, increasing their labor even more. Pharaoh had his gods and had no use for or fear of the god of the Jews. Even Moses had second thoughts about God. He knew He existed because he had had a personal encounter with Him at the burning bush. But after being confronted by his own people and blamed for their worsening circumstances, Moses began to question God’s plan and doubt His power. “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23 ESV).
But God had a purpose behind all of this. He knew what He was doing. He told Moses, “I Am and I will.” He wanted Moses and the people to be certain of His presence and fully aware of His power. And He was going to choose to do it through His dealings with the Egyptians. And His objective? “…you shall know that I am the Lord your God!” All throughout the book of Exodus, you will see this phrase repeated. When all was said and done, the Israelites AND the Egyptians were going to know that God is God. He is the only true God. He not only IS, He DOES. He not only exists, He is the self-existent one. He has no beginning or end. He is not limited by space or time. He is everywhere at once, and is able to see all that is going on in all places at all times. Our greatest need is to recognize His presence and to trust in His power. He is still the great I Am and He will do what He has promised to do in our lives just as He did for Moses and the people of Israel.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Man is prone to doubt God’s existence. Even when we believe He exists, we tend to doubt His presence in and around our lives. Our inability to see Him makes us question His reality. The presence of problems in our lives makes us doubt His power over our lives. Moses had had a personal encounter with God. He had spoken directly with Him. And yet, when things God tough, he began to doubt and question God. The people of Israel found themselves facing mounting pressure and personal discomfort at the hands of the Egyptians, so they reacted in anger and distrust. They blamed Moses and doubted God. “…they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9 ESV). Their view of God was limited by their circumstances. They allowed the size of their God to be limited by the size of their problem. But God said, “I Am and I will.” Their doubt did not diminish God’s capacity to perform. Their doubt did not make God any less powerful or capable. He was God and He would act. He had promised and He would fulfill that promise. He had seen and heard and He would respond. And while to Moses it may have appeared that God had been inactive, he would find that nothing could have been further from the truth.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
I rarely doubt God’s existence. I simply doubt His presence. I know He’s there. I just sometimes wonder if He is here. That God is in heaven, sitting on His throne is a comfortable concept for me. But to recognize that He is present in the everyday affairs of my life is a bit harder for me to comprehend and believe. I tend to judge the presence of God based on my circumstances. When all is going well, He is obviously there. But let anything go wrong in my life, and I can begin to question His existence or at least His willingness to intervene. I need to see God as the great I Am, who will. He is real and He is intimately aware of my circumstance and fully capable of doing all that He has promised to do in my life – regardless of what I may see going on around me. His apparent inaction is nothing more than my inability to see Him at work behind the scenes. Moses did not know the intimate details of God’s plan, neither do I. I can’t see what He is doing behind the scenes. So I must take God at His word and trust His character more than I trust what my eyes can see.
In the closing chapter of the book of Matthew, we see the disciples grieving over the loss of their Messiah. He is dead. Their hopes are shattered. Their dreams have been dashed. The women went to the tomb to anoint His body, but encountered an angel who told them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where helay” (Matthew 28:5-6 ESV). Once again, God had done what He had said He would do. Jesus had told His disciples that He would have to suffer and die, but that He would rise again on the third day. And He had.
“I AM and I will.”
God had done the improbably and the impossible. He had provided salvation for man through the death of His own Son. He had satisfied His own just requirement for the payment of mankind’s sins with the life of His own Son. Jesus Himself had claimed to be the great I Am. He had said He was going to die, but also promised to rise again. And He did. He was the Son of God and He did what He said He would do. Our greatest need is to recognize God’s existence in our lives and His power to do all that He has promised to do. He is STILL the great I AM and He WILL do what He has said He will do.
Father, forgive me for doubting You. Forgive me for not seeing Your handiwork all around my life all throughout the years of my life. You have been there. You have been acting behind the scenes in so many ways. You have been there time and time again, but I still tend to doubt. I still tend to question Your presence and Your power. Give me the ability to trust You more. Help me to focus on the reality of You rather than the circumstances that surround me. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men