Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – “I Am the LORD” (Exodus 6:1-9)

In this first discourse with Moses in chapter 6, five times God says, “I am the LORD,” or originally, “I am Yahweh.” After He tells Moses that He will send out His people from Pharaoh “with a strong hand,” He says, “I am Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Yahweh I did not make Myself known to them” (v. 3). Then after making it known that He’s heard the groans of His people, He says, “I am Yahweh, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (v. 6), and He uses other salvific verbiage: “I will deliver you… I will redeem you… I will take you” so that “you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.” Finally, after reminding Moses of the promise He swore to their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—He ends with, “I am Yahweh” (v. 8).

Why does God repeat His name numerous times in this discourse? The text doesn’t exactly tells us, but I cannot help but think that by connecting His personal name with the promises He gave to their forefathers that it was a way of saying, “Remember who I am. I am Yahweh, the God who keeps His promises.” Therefore, knowing that Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who has indeed kept His promises to them, the only thing left to do is to trust in Him. But alas, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (v. 9). In other words, because of their immense suffering, they had a hard time believing Moses’ words, that is, the Word of the Lord. Of course, this didn’t stop Yahweh. He continued to act for His people’s salvation.

As the author of Hebrews says of Jesus, who is God, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament. We do not believe in two different Gods; we are not Marcionites. God’s plan of salvation has never changed since God Himself is immutable. His plan has always been to crush the head of the serpent with the heel of the woman’s seed (Genesis 3:15). This was still the plan at the time of Exodus, for this seed would come from the people of Israel whom God is bringing out of the land of Egypt to worship Him and be His people in the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This seed was promised to the woman Eve, and the seed came through the woman Mary, Eve’s descendant (Luke 3:23-38). (While Eve is not mentioned by name, in ancient genealogy, the wife is always assumed when her husband’s name is listed.)

In Christ, therefore, God’s promise comes to fruition. Hence Jesus’ last words on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Many have interpreted these last words differently. Some say He is referring to His suffering—that His suffering is finished. I don’t think this is the case. It is true that His suffering on the cross ended in His death, but death itself is to suffer, and Jesus was dead for three days, so His suffering was not quite done yet. Rather, I believe—with many others—that His last words are referring to His work of salvation. It is true that His death and resurrection together worked our salvation, yet He wouldn’t have been resurrected if He didn’t die first. His last words, then, are not an either/or but a both/and. His work of salvation is finished on the cross, and these words also anticipate His resurrection, as well as our own in the final eschaton.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God… For if, because of one man’s trespass [Adam], death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience [Jesus] the many will be made righteous… so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord… For if we have been united with Him in a death like His [via Baptism], we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.

Romans 5:1-2, 17-19, 21; 6:5

Theology Terms Used

  • Eschaton: literally, “last day.” When someone says “on this side of the eschaton,” we are referring to the time before Christ’s return
  • Immutable: unchangeable; a vital attribute belonging to God.
  • Marcionism: A Christian movement that began in the 2nd century led by Marcion of Sinope who believed that the God of the Old Testament is not the same God as the New Testament and, therefore, that none of the Old Testament applies to Christians. Rather, the Old and New Testaments have two different Gods. In his view, the God of the Old Testament is an inferior deity to the supreme God revealed in Jesus. His contemporaries Justin Martyr (100-165), Irenaeus of Lyons (130-200), and Hippolytus (170-235) opposed his teachings. The church excommunicated and exiled Marcion in AD 144 for his refusal to recant on his heretical teachings. Despite his excommunication, his views continued to spread, he planted his own churches, and eventually challenged the authenticity of the apostolic writings in the New Testament (the Epistles) since they all acknowledged the Old Testament as authoritative and the inspired Word of God.
Categories Pastoral Thoughts, SeriesTags , , , , , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – “I Am the LORD” (Exodus 6:1-9)

  1. Ah, Marcion, we talked him about him at Winkel this morning

    Like

  2. Ah, Marcion, we talked him about him at Winkel this morning

    Like

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