We use the simple English phrase, I am, in many very ordinary ways. The same is true in Greek and Hebrew. However, in several passages of Scripture, the phrase has great significance.
Yahweh (Jehovah) gave Moses a fuller revelation of His personal name in the form of a cryptic Hebrew phrase ’eheyeh ’asher ’eheyeh. One of the most likely translations is “I Am who I Am.” The Greek translators of the Old Testament wrote “egō eimi ho ōn.”
Several times God began statements about Himself with the Hebrew for “I Am.” Jesus (Yeshua‘) seemed to do the same thing. Seven word pictures that describe His relationship with us begin with the phrase.
I am the way and the truth and the life
I am the resurrection and the life
Sometimes Jesus made more pointed statements that were only slightly veiled claims to be God. The statements angered the Jews because they considered such claims blasphemy. In the end, they killed Him for it. But Jesus proved it to be true by rising from the dead. In the book of Revelation He shares the same title as God when He says, “I am the Alpha and Omega.”
I Am in Greek:
Strong’s Concordance number: 1510
Bible reference: John 8:58
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:57-58 KJV)
Miracles with a Message (a devotional)
What place do miracles have in your relationship with God? Do you cautiously skirt the subject, accepting of miracles in Scripture but unsure of their relevance for today? Or do you drop everything when you hear that a popular miracle worker is coming to town? I am convinced that spiritual maturity is about balance, and that includes embracing not just miracles but the statement that miracles make.
A true miracle happens when the vivid abundance of heaven interrupts the humdrum patterns of life on earth—patterns of disease and decay. For eighty years an encounter with an angel in the midst of a flaming, yet unburned, bush shaped the life of Moses. What a sight that must have been! But it was more than a sensory experience; the angel brought a message revealing the nature of Yahweh and His plan to save His people. Moses’ parting words to the people of Israel included words from Yahweh that alluded to that life-changing encounter eighty years earlier.
See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. (Deuteronomy 32:39)
Once again, Yahweh, whose nature will never be condensed into human language beyond a mysterious “I AM WHO I AM,” emphasized that “I, I am He.” “I am life and existence in bold capitals.” No other being in the universe approaches that. Any attempt to adopt a god beside Him is a delusion; there are none.
Yahweh demonstrated what can happen when He touches earth with His divine life—life or death, health or wounding. Moses’ mind must have flashed back to the scene by the bush. He remembered how God had compensated for His cryptic statement by providing a series of object lessons, which are easier to understand and remember than complex words. Yahweh miraculously metamorphosed a stick into a writhing snake and then turned the snake back into a lifeless stick. He plagued Moses’ hand with leprosy, and then healed it. The One with power to breathe life into dust turned water into blood as it hit the hot Egyptian sand. Notice His comments to a stammering Moses: “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh?” (Ex. 4:1-11) Yahweh dramatically demonstrated that He, the sourceless One, is the origin, the sustainer, and the terminator of all life, intervening as and when He chooses.1
In Moses, case, the message behind the miracle was twofold:
- Yahweh cares about the suffering of His people and will deliver them.2
- How can anyone in the service of a God as incomprehensibly great as Yahweh ever contemplate failure in their appointed mission?
Never forget miracles—in Scripture or in experience. The miracles that I have seen or experienced tell me the same thing they told Moses. God cares, and we can depend on Him to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Those purposes still center on delivering people from life-sapping slavery.
- Adapted from The Name Quest, by John Avery (Morgan James Publishing, 2014). [↩]
- Exodus 3:7-10. [↩]