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Names of Jesus
“The Great I Am”
The Name, “I AM” is the most iconic and recognizable name of God, and it is from this name that the name Jehovah or Yahweh comes from.
The name Jehovah is used over 6,800 times in the Bible. It is the personal name of the Lord God of Israel.
Now, to understand this name when Jesus used it, we need to go back and understand the name itself and how God used it and what it means to all of us.
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14 NKJV)
We do ourselves a disservice if we leave it here, because the name, “I Am Who I Am,” is actually the description of the most Holy name of God, a name by which so many if His other names are derived, and that is the name Jehovah, or Yahweh.
Follow me with this. Look at what the Lord now says to Moses.
“Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord (Yahweh) 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 to all generations.” (Exodus 3:15 NKJV)
The “I AM Who I AM” is the description of Yahweh. It’s where we get the Hebrew “YHWH.”
This name of God, which according to Jewish tradition is too holy to say out loud, is spelled out in these four consonants, YHWH without the vowels, which makes it unpronounceable, and is referred to as the Holy Tetragrammaton. The word tetragrammaton means “four letters.”
YHWH comes from the Hebrew letters: “Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay.” Jehovah and Yahweh are then hybrid terms. What that means is that the vowels from the word, Adonai, which is another name for lord, are inserted into the four Hebrew consonants.
And so the pronunciation for the name of God, or Lord, has been “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah,” but no one knows for certain the exact pronunciation.
However not wanting to take God’s holy name in vain, the Jews, around the third century A.D., stopped saying this name in fear of breaking the third commandment, Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
To accomplish this they substituted the name “Adonai,” in its place, and began writing God’s holy name “G-D” in the English, again consonants only with the vowel missing.
But remember I said that the I AM is more of a description than it is a name, and it describes the name God gave to Moses saying, “The Lord God … has sent me.”
To reveal this tie in, it might be good to note that Jehovah, or Yahweh, is derived from the Hebrew word, “havah,” which means, “to be.” The Hebrew word for “I Am,” is “ehyeh,” and it comes from the root word, “havah.” And so the “I AM” is in essence the same as Yahweh.
It has been noted by scholars that in the Hebrew “I Am” may more literally be translated, “I will be.”
Does this change anything? Not in my estimation. As I see it, God is saying, “I am who I am, and I will be who I will be. Therefore, you can’t change me into whatever you want. But I will be whatever you need.”
The “I Am Who I Am” expresses the truth that nothing or no one defines who God is but the Lord God Himself.
Therefore who are we to try to define God when He has already defined Himself, which unfortunately is exactly what people and religion are trying to do today.
This was the Jewish authority’s problem when they picked up stones to pit Jesus to death when He said, “before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58 NKJV) They did not recognized prophecy and felt they knew God, when all they really knew was the law.
This idea that God is who He is, and that He will be what we need is seen in the giving of this name to Moses.
To the Jews in captivity God was going to be for them their deliverance, but even more, He would be their everything as the name Jehovah is attached to so many of God’s names and attributes.
Listen to just some of His names and what they mean to all of us.
• Jehovah-Shammah – I am the Lord God who is there for you, I am present even when you don’t need Me.
• Jehovah-Jireh – I am the Lord God who provides for you. I am the Lord God who knows what you need even before you need it.
• Jehovah-Rophe – I am the Lord God who heals you.
• Jehovah-Kaddesh – I am the Lord God who sets you apart and makes you holy.
• Jehovah-Shalom – I am the Lord God who brings peace into your life and into your situation, and
• Jehovah-Rohi – I am the Lord God your good shepherd who brings guidance, provision, and protection.
Further, what I find fascinating is that those who came before Moses, even though this name was used in the Genesis account, didn’t know God by this name. Adam and Eve didn’t know God by the name Jehovah, or Yahweh, neither did Noah or Abraham; instead God first revealed this name to Moses.
The Lord actually made this clear when He told Moses.
“I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord (YHWH, Yahweh) I was not known to them.” (Exodus 6:3 NKJV)
While Yahweh is first used in the creation account found in Genesis 2, God did not reveal Himself as Yahweh until Exodus 3.
And this name He would give to no other.
The Lord makes it clear within the Scriptures that He would never give this name, His holy name, the name Yahweh to anyone or anything else.
“I am the Lord (Yahweh), that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” (Isaiah 42:8 NKJV)
And while the Lord clearly makes this announcement, He also clearly gave His holy name, the name, Yahweh, to another, the Messiah. It is found in the book of Jeremiah.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6a NKJV)
This is understood as a prophecy of the coming Messiah, and while this is a beautiful picture it gets so much better.
“Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jehovah Tsidkenu)” (Jeremiah 23:6b NKJV)
And so, not only does the Lord call the coming Messiah righteous knowing that only the Lord God is righteous, but He called Him by His holy name, Jehovah, or Yahweh.
Jesus is the “I AM.”
Jesus is the “I AM,” the Lord, Yahweh.
When asked whether He was greater than Abraham, who along with the prophets died, Jesus replied that Abraham rejoiced to see His day, and then added the coup de grace.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58 NKJV)
Upon hearing Jesus use this holy name of God, the Jews picked up stones intending to put Him to death over such a blasphemous statement, John 8:59.
In the Greek, the words Jesus used for “I AM” was “ἐγώ εἰμί” (ego eimi).
Now there are those who dispute that these are the same words used by God to Moses back in the burning bush, but a quick reading of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament written in the third century B.C, reveals otherwise.
The Septuagint translates “ehyeh asher ehyeh,” “I Am Who I Am,” of Exodus 3:14 into Greek as ”ego eimi ho on”
But this wasn’t the only time Jesus used this name. Concerning other names that He used to describe Himself, which is the same thing we see the Lord doing with His holy name, Jehovah or Yahweh, Jesus used this same Greek word.
Look at these eight names Jesus used to describe Himself, each using “ἐγώ εἰμί.”
• “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35 NKJV)
• “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
• “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9 NKJV)
• “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 NKJV)
• “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25 NKJV)
• “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
• “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser … I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1,5 NKJV)
• “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16 NKJV)
There is another time Jesus used “ἐγώ εἰμί,” that reveals the power of that name and Jesus’ authority to use it.
When they came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked who they were looking for, they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said, “I am He,” or “ἐγώ εἰμί.” Upon hearing Jesus use this name, they then took a step backwards and fell over, John 18:5-6.
Jesus is Jehovah, Yahweh, the “I AM.” He is the eternal, self-existent One, that is, He needs no one else, which is what we see in the various descriptions used by Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
Jesus also said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13 NKJV)
With all that has been said of the coming Messiah that He would be none other than the Lord God, like Isaiah’s prophecies saying His name will be called, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Immanuel (God with us), we can with assuredly say that Jesus is indeed the great “I AM.”
Since this is the case, then why do we or anyone else need to look elsewhere, to religion or to human philosophy for life’s meaning when Jesus is the great, unchangeable, “I AM.”
What does this mean for us today?
I approach this with the understanding that Jesus is the Lord God, Yahweh, the “I AM,” and that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9.
Jesus doesn’t change
It was through the name of Yahweh, the “I AM,” that the Lord revealed Himself as the eternal, self-existent, and unchangeable One who remains faithful, even though we as His people aren’t always so faithful.
Of Jesus the Apostle Paul said, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV)
Even though we may not have been as faithful as we should, or for that matter, faithful period, Jesus still remains faithful, which means that He cannot change.
We, however, continue to change, physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually, but Jesus doesn’t change.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
While our love grows hot and cold at a moments notice, the Lord’s love for us remains unchanged.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV)
The unchangeableness of Jesus goes back to what the Lord said to Moses, and the name Jesus used of Himself, that He is the “I Am Who I Am,” “I will be who I will be.” He doesn’t change.
This is further revealed by Jesus when He said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega … who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 NKJV)
And so, because Jesus doesn’t change, and we can trust what He says.
Jesus keeps His word
We can trust what Jesus says, and we can trust His promises towards us.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)
What then are some of these promises that we can take hold of and trust for our lives? Let me give you my three top vote getters.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
Jesus promised that after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension that He would not leave us as orphans, but will send to us the Holy Spirit.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17a NKJV)
And then later Jesus confirmed this promise.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7 NKJV)
Jesus promised that when He left, He would send another, which in the Greek language means someone who is exactly the same. Jesus promised that He would send someone exactly like Himself. Since Jesus is God, the second person of the Godhead, the person who follows must be the same, and that is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.
And so dwelling inside all those who believe is the temple of the Holy Spirit, given to us according to the promise. The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian Church attests this to.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV)
The Promise of Heaven
Part of the Lord’s message to Moses, which prompted Moses to ask God His name, was the promise God made to rescue the Jewish people and bring them into the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey.
The Lord said, “So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8 NKJV)
Jesus makes a similar promise that all those who believe in Him can look forward to being in heaven with Him.
Knowing He would soon be leaving, Jesus said that in His Father’s house are many dwelling places, and that He is going to prepare a dwelling place for us.
And then He makes this incredible promise.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV)
Not only is Jesus making the promise that He will return, but also, like the promise God made to the Israelites of the Promised Land, Jesus promises all those who believe in Him the Promised Land of heaven.
The Promise of Salvation
The promise that God, the Great I Am, gave to Moses and to the Jewish people was deliverance from their 400 plus years of bondage to the Egyptians.
Jesus promises deliverance for all who believe from their bondage to sin and death.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)
Jesus not only made the promise, but He is the promise.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
Because Jesus is the Great I AM, Jehovah, Yahweh, He doesn’t change, and as such we can trust Him at His word, that is, He’ll keep whatever promises He has made.
Jesus proclamation that He is the, “I AM,” is a promise to this world lost in sin and needing salvation.
Just as God came down and presented Himself to Moses in the burning bush promising salvation and deliverance, Jesus came down and died upon the cross promising salvation and deliverance to all who would believe in Him from their bondage to sin and death, offering forgiveness now and heaven in the end.
Jesus is therefore our “Great I AM.”
Wednesday Evening Bible Study