If I, as an ordinary person say “I am” it is always followed by something. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a student. I am a teacher. I am of average height. I am of average build.
What does it mean when you ask God “Who are you?” and He answers, “I AM WHO I AM.”?
God can say “I AM” without saying anything more, because God is!
Everything and everyone in this world becomes, from birth to death, always changing. But God never changes or becomes anything different from what He is now. What He is, that He was, and ever will be. Exodus 3:14 is the most firm declaration of God’s eternal self existence that is found in the Tanach (Tanakh) or Old Testament.
Exodus 3:14 Tanach (Tanakh, Hebrew Bible, Judaica Press) “God said to Moses, ‘Ehyeh asher ehyeh (I will be what I will be),’ and He said, ‘So shall you say to the children of Israel, Ehyeh (I will be) has sent me to you.'”
Exodus 3:14 Old Testament (ESV: English Standard Version)“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.'”
“I AM WHO I AM” contains each tense of the verb “to be.” We can translate it “I was, I am, I shall always continue to be.” He is the eternal “I AM.”
Moses had asked God for a name that he can pass onto his fellow Israelites in Egypt in order to validate his mission, but God replied not with a name or label but with a theology.
Some beautiful points can be drawn from this:
God exists. God is there. God is here. This may seem basic but many people live as if it were not true, or if they believe it might be true or is, it does not make any difference in life, theirs or in general.
There is no reality behind God. He is the reality. He is the Creator. He is the master designer. Nothing birthed Him or created Him. He always existed. For those who believe that a cosmic big bang started things here on earth, well, how do you start something out of nothing? Where did the energy come from in order to create this big bang originate from? And a random big bang would cause chaos meanwhile everything is and was in perfect order for everything to be formed and to stay formed. Everything points to a master Creator, one who is the energy, the power.
God does not change. We change our minds depending on circumstances or our emotions. God foresees all circumstances and has no weaknesses. Nothing is a surprise to Him and He is consistent, always, with His character. Speaking of character, God is who He is, and we learn about Him in the Bible. Your view or my view of our what we would like God to be or what we believe God to be does not make it so.
When God says I AM WHO I AM, He ends the fallacy that our ideas of God or who we would like Him to be are valid. We are called to strive to know Him for who He is, not our own fantasy version of Him. Inherent in this is that we are also called to conform to Him, not the other way around. It is actually quite exhilarating. While we (and I) often battle to hold onto control and do things our way, there is such incredible freedom found in giving up the choke hold, giving up the battling, and submitting to the One who actually created us. Yes, freedom!
Please feel free to ask any questions or to discuss any aspect of this! Thank you!