15:3–5 So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.” The grumbling Pharisees wanted to demonstrate their disapproval of Jesus’ actions, but Jesus didn’t say a word in his own defense; instead, he chose to speak a parable. The religious leaders were to picture themselves as shepherds (in reality, as leaders of the nation, they should have been serving as shepherds of God’s people).
Moses never spoke more true words than when he stated, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11).
It is often the case that the greatest spiritual strides forward in our lives begin with the question, “Who am I?” The question reflects awareness that without God we can do nothing. This is what Jesus taught when he spoke of the vine and the branches: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). To say “Who am I?” when called to a challenging task does not reflect cowardice or a lack of faith, but rather reflects the knowledge that in our own strength we will fail. Moses now understood his weaknesses and this displayed that he was ready for his calling.
God did not accuse Moses of lack of faith, but instead encouraged Moses: “And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain’ ” (Ex. 3:12). Note that God encouraged Moses by conveying two things to him—God’s presence with him and a sign that assured Moses that his mission would be a success. God filled the void of Moses’ self-acknowledged weakness with the fullness of his loving assurance. Moses knew that the Angel of the Lord was with him.
God’s Word tells us that he will be with us (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5) and that he has given us signs to assure us of victory (1 Cor. 11:23–25; Col. 2:11–12).
Notice how Moses poses the question to God: “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’ ” (Ex. 3:13). Can you hear the anxiety latent in Moses’ question? Can you see how his question reveals a certain level of audacity on Moses’ part? After all, Moses is essentially asking the living and powerful God for his calling card!
Moses’ anxiety and his inquiry are not surprising. In fact, Moses’ actions are entirely understandable and rational, even if they are a bit audacious. The striking part of this encounter is that God actually answers Moses’ question. Once again, God stoops down in amazing humility to further the redemption of his people. In an act of intimacy and amazing self-revelation, God tells Moses his name: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you,” ” (Ex. 3:14).
Now the name that God gave to Moses does speak volumes about who God is, but before we get to the glory of the meaning of his name, it is important to see the glory of the fact that God revealed his name to Moses in the first place. God did not respond to Moses by chastising him for asking such a question. He did not say to Moses, “Who are you to ask me for my name?” Instead, God revealed his name to Moses, and this tells us something about who God is. It tells us that he is the God who reveals himself.
Think about it for a moment. How do you know what God is like? Can you understand who God is from the creation alone? Well, you might be able to understand some of his power and attributes through the creation, as Paul tells us in Romans 1:20, but you could not come to a full understanding of God’s plan of redemption by looking at the stars or the trees. The only way we understand God and the plan of salvation is through God’s self-revelation in his Word.