Wednesday, July 6, 2011
There are three things I used to never like; asparagus (at the time, “no cooked veggies for me!”), getting organized (too much work for a free spirit), and a former foreman when I was in college named William, a.k.a. “Butterball” (he was a big intimidating guy that swore a lot). It is funny how sometimes it is easy to be indifferent or down right negative about things and or people we do not know or understand. When I finally tried asparagus, as a young adult, I liked it. About 10 years ago, at the urging of my supervisor, I tried out a PDA (personal data assistant) and it helped me immensely with arranging my calendar and my tasks. And then, there was “Butterball.” As I discovered the big heart he had for people and how he would give the shirt off his back for others, I grew to love the dude!
Maybe you have had a small or narrow view of something like food, activities or people. Sometimes, people can go through life with an inaccurate view of God. Maybe you are like many who have grown up believing in God without really knowing him. You might even say, “I do not have a clue about what God is like and who he is.” Or perhaps, your knowledge of him just amounts to dusty old head knowledge that isn’t real and practical.
It is one thing to have a narrow view about something like asparagus. But I submit to you, if you are like most Americans and believe in God, to go through life without expanding your understanding of God would be a travesty. In the Bible, we find that God reveals who he is and his greatness through his names.
In Exodus chapter 3, we meet Moses. It is easy to remember Moses as a superior leader and the one who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. But in Exodus 3, we find Moses here as a man on the run— a fugitive. Several years earlier, while living a life of privilege as an adopted son of the king in Egypt, Moses murdered a slave master who was beating a Hebrew, a descendant of Moses. After his act of passion, Moses buried the victim in the sand hoping that this act would not be discovered. When the murder became known, Moses escaped to the desert, to the land of Midian, miles and miles away from his people and from what he knew. This is where God begins to reveal himself to Moses through the instrumentality of a burning bush.
When life is breaking us, when life is beating us down, it is then, maybe for the first time, that we can be ready to hear from God. And this is what happens here as God makes himself known to Moses. God speaks to him and invites Moses to join him in what he is doing, and that is delivering the Israelites from the land of slavery.
But Moses is not sure about leaving his desert abode, and he presents God with several excuses ending with, “Who shall I tell them has sent me?” Exodus 3:14-15 says, “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.’” In this passage, God reveals his personal name, signified in the Bible with LORD in all capitals (as opposed to Lord). In Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament), it is the name Yahweh and it literally means, “The One who is.” This name reflects true greatness!
Yahweh communicates that “His name is forever” and this helps us understand that God is eternal. Each of us had a beginning, everything had a beginning, but God has always been. God’s name is everlasting, a memorial-name to all generations.
Some have said that the name Yahweh is the most complete statement about God. And yet, at the same time, it is a name that is described as ineffable, meaning a name too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. Sometimes we try to limit God to what we can understand but he is above and beyond our normal range of human experience.
Moses bought into God’s revelation and truly great things happened in his life. I urge you to take the time to explore who God is more, and as you do, you will experience his true greatness!