“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” So He said, “I will certainly be with you … Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:11-14)
Moses asks God, “Who am I?” and God tells Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” What a difference in perspective! I love this passage because in a world where it is so easy to question who we are and whether we have what it takes; it shows me that there is another way.
The Lord has just appeared to Moses in the burning bush and has told him that He is sending him back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites into the Promised Land. It was probably the most challenging thing that the Lord could ever have asked Moses to do. Moses’ immediate response was to question his own identity, “Who am I to do this?” I wonder how many times I have asked the Lord this same question.
God’s reply really fascinates me. He doesn’t answer Moses’ question, at least not directly. He first tells Moses that He will be with him and then He tells him His name: I AM WHO I AM, tell them that I AM has sent me to you! What a world of difference lies between Moses’ faltering, ‘Who am I?’ and the depth and the assurance of the Lord’s unwavering I AM WHO I AM.
There are two different mindsets at work here. Moses had to choose whose definition he was going to live his life by. Was he an Israelite or an Egyptian, from a chosen people or a land of slavery, was he the Prince of Egypt or the shepherd of Midian, royalty or reject, fugitive or free? God’s definition of who Moses was had the backing of all of heaven behind it. Moses’ definition would lead to a place of constant insecurity and self-doubt.
When we define ourselves by what we are not, we actually create a stronghold. When we define ourselves by who we are and who God created us to be, we create a strong foundation and a platform from which we can be launched into all of the plans and promises of God.
Two things really jump out at me in the way that God responds to Moses. Firstly, it is always about relationship. We can only know who we are in relationship to Him and we can only do what He asks in partnership with Him. Our doing has to come out of our being. Secondly, the Lord only ever defines Himself by who He is. It’s in His name, which means that it is in His nature, and we have been created in His image. There is something for us here. Jesus modelled the same thing in John 10:30. He knew who He was in relation to His heavenly Father and He lived out of that place of identity. Seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus goes on to describe himself using the words I AM. He is showing us how to live out of a place of Godly identity. The Lord never defines us by what we are not, but by who we are and who He has created us to be. Let’s get God’s perspective on our identity and, like Jesus, choose to identify ourselves by who He says we are.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, that you prioritise relationship with me. Thank you that by drawing close to you, I get to know the great I AM and I get to know who I am. Today I choose You. I choose Your perspective, Your thoughts and Your words towards me. Today I chose to define myself by who You say that I am and I stand on that foundation: chosen, beloved, a child of God, a joint heir with Jesus, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, highly favoured, greatly blessed and full of hope.