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Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's in a name?

What's in a name?  Have you ever heard someone's name and wondered if the person's parents really had it in for the kid when they chose the name? Something like "Lilly Cropp" or "Frank Lee".  There are names which depict something of the "era" into which they were born, such as when you hear a person born into the sixties being called "Star", "Sunshine", or "Rainbow".  Those given these name bear them a long, long time!  Still, others are named "after" someone - such as when they are given the name of the father down to the second, third or fourth generations.  Yet, others are given names which parents do a great deal of deliberation about - looking for "just the right" name which will speak of the character or blessing of the child.  Regardless of the name given, it is what is behind the name which really matters, is it not?  Being called "Star" doesn't make you outstandingly bright - but you could be.  Having the honor of being named after your forefathers doesn't guarantee your integrity as a man - some will just abuse the name they were given.  Names are labels of some sort - a way of identifying us to others.  Yet, if we really begin to consider a name, there is much behind it - especially when it is the name of GOD.

“I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am Godyour God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.”  (Exodus 6:6-8 MSG)

What we don't see in this passage is the preceding paragraph where God begins to speak with Moses about how he will be "known" to Moses and the people of Israel.  He tells Moses that previous to this time, he had been known as The Strong God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the forefathers of the Israelite nation).  He was known as "I AM".  Now, God was revealing himself in a fresh way - not only through the name "I AM", but also as "GOD".  He tells Moses he is the one who can be known as "I AM Present".  In other words, he is going to reveal himself to Israel as the ever-present God.  

Let's consider this for a moment.  Israel needed a deliverer as they had been under the cruel hand of the Egyptians for years.  They worked as slave labor in the fields and factories of the land.  Their daily needs were provided at the hand of the Egyptian people who would "allot" their provisions.  Now, the I AM speaks to Moses the message of hope - I AM is with you, yes, but the one who will be ever-present is also with you!  I guess there is no greater hope that can be given than the knowledge that even in our struggles, we are not alone!

God is known my many names, but few speak as much as the combination of these two names of God - "I AM" and "GOD".  The first carries the idea of being the one who existed and will always exist.  He is the one who is our becoming one - nothing is out of his realm.  The second hints about the relationship he desires with his creation.  Here he brings us to the awareness of being "ever-present" with us - as not only the one who will always exist, but as the one who will never leave us, nor forsake us.

Imagine having to go up against a huge world power, complete with armies so vast they were almost unable to be counted.  You are charged to go before this leader and to proclaim that he needed to set these people free - to go to another land, no longer being of service to the world power again.  Can you say, "Scary"?  I am thinking this is were Moses found himself at this moment. A little intimidated by the power of Pharaoh, but also a little frustrated because he knew his own natural limitations.  

Moses was 80 years old when God asked him to tell Pharaoh he wanted these people to be freed from their servitude in Egypt!  How many 80 year olds feel really "strong"?  Probably not too many.  In fact, as age comes, physical strength often diminishes.  Mental strength is even affected.  So, I think God was giving Moses a little insight into how he was to proceed - not independent, in his own strength, or with his own understanding, but with the ever-present GOD going before him.

If you are feeling like you have some insurmountable task ahead of you today, take heart.  Not only does the "I AM" (the one who was, who is, and who will ever be) stand with you, but so does "GOD" (the one who is ever-present).  You don't stand alone.  You have at your access all the power of GOD - the becoming one.  What do you need GOD to become in your life today?  Call on his name - he goes before, stands alongside, and will even bring up the rear, if need be!  Just sayin!