Week 5, Exodus 3—4; 15:1-22: “Moses and Miriam”–Moses’ Call: Names

Monday, March 27

When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’  He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ . . . But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?’  God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”  God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, 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 my title for all generations’” (Exodus 3: 4-6, 13-15).

Volumes have been written about the revelation and meaning of the divine Name—and no wonder! There is wonder and mystery here that it would take lifetimes to explore. But at its simplest, most basic level, what is going on in this classic encounter? God calls Moses by name. Then, God tells Moses God’s own Name (in Hebrew, YHWH; since the Name is regarded as too holy to pronounce, pious Jews simply say “Adonai,” or “My Lord;” most English translators therefore render the Name as Lord in all capital letters). This very familiar exchange happens every time we meet someone new. We introduce ourselves. We exchange names, and with that exchange, a relationship can begin.

That God already knows Moses’ name is no surprise. It is God after all who is the source of our identities: of course such a God knows who Moses is—better than Moses knows himself! God has also been known to Israel before, as “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” But the giving of God’s name sets that relationship on a personal, intimate footing. God desires a relationship with this people who are no people, these slaves in Egypt, and it is that relationship that makes them a people.

Prayer: Thank you, Adonai, for calling us each by name, and for giving your own to us. Thank you for showing us in Jesus who you are, and inviting us into relationship through him. In Jesus’ own holy name, Amen.


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