His name is ‘I am the Lord’
What do you do when you are following God, but nothing seems to be working out right? Sometimes we think that if we are following God and being obedient to what he has led us to do, it will all turn out well. But that is not always the case. What do you do when it doesn’t work out the way you hoped? What do you do when the relationship fails and ends in divorce? What do you do when there is not enough money left at the end of the month to pay the bills? What do you do when the home you’ve invested your heart and soul into goes into foreclosure? What do you do when a loved one dies unexpectedly? What do you do when life doesn’t seem fair? What do you do?
Gratefully, God gives us many examples in Scripture of others who have struggled with these same questions. I have recently been reading the story of Moses leading the nation of Israel out of Egypt. The account is fascinating because it is loaded with scenes in which God directs and then Moses obeys, but chaos follows.
In Exodus, Chapter 5, we find Moses deeply frustrated with God. He ends the chapter with this lament to God:
“O LORD, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23, ESV).
Can you hear the frustration in his voice? Personally, I appreciate Moses’ candor with God. I am grateful that he expresses his frustrations because sometimes I do the same. Sometimes I don’t understand what God is doing. I don’t think it disrespects God when we humbly come to him and admit our humanity. Sometimes I say to God, “God, I don’t get you. I don’t understand what you are doing. It just doesn’t make sense to me.” In those moments I am not expressing arrogance. I am expressing my humanity. I am humbly coming to God and acknowledging that I am not God. I do not think like God thinks. I think like a man thinks. But gratefully, God understands my humanity.
What follows in Chapter 6 is a fascinating word from God. It is a long passage, but bear with me as I share it with you.
God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. (Exodus 6:2-9, ESV)
I love the way God responds to Moses. God graciously explains to Moses the greater plan he has in mind for the Israelites. Up until this point, God had not appeared to the nation as a whole. He had appeared individually to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty. But even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn’t know God in the way he was about to reveal himself. God was about to introduce himself to the entire nation in a way that was different from anything he had done before. And when he does, the name he will use is “I AM THE LORD”. They are about to experience God in a whole new way. God is about to amaze them with the display of his lordship over every aspect of their lives. But it would not come easily. In fact, it would be some of the most difficult days of their lives.
God instructs Moses to speak a direct word from God to the people. Interestingly, everything Moses is instructed to say is contained within two identical phrases. They are like bookends on each end of the comments. “I am the LORD,” he says. It is as if he is saying, “From the beginning to the end and everything in between, I am in control. I am over all. I am aware. I know your situation. I am God over all.”
Allow me to summarize the phrases God uses in this exchange with Moses. Because I believe if you can hear what God is saying, you will find a great deal to encourage you in whatever situation you may be facing today. Here is what he said:
“I am the LORD. I will bring you out. I will deliver you. I will redeem you with my arms outstretched to you and with great demonstrations of my power. I will take you to be mine. I will be your God. You will know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under your burdens. I will fulfill my promise to you. I am the LORD.”
Friend, where do you find yourself today? Are you burdened with cares? Does life seem unfair? Have you found yourself saying, “God, I just don’t get it”? If so, I believe this word is for you. God is Lord over your situation. He knows everything you are experiencing. He has heard your cries. He is at work, even when you cannot see it. He is Lord. It is as if he comes to us in the trial and says, “Let me introduce myself to you in a way you’ve never known me before. I am the Lord over every situation you may face. I was Lord before your difficulty began, I am the Lord in the midst of your problem, and I will be Lord after it is over.”
He is Lord when you lose your job. He is Lord when your divorce is final. He is Lord when your loved one dies. He is Lord when your family is in chaos. He is Lord when you are physically sick. He is Lord when the car dies. In all and through all, He is Lord. Period. End of sentence.
On a final note, one of the most interesting aspects to the lengthy passage I quoted earlier is the final thought at the end of the paragraph. It says, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9, ESV). My heart felt heavy when I read that phrase. I felt for those people who had endured so many trials. They were so completely broken in spirit that the encouraging words of Moses couldn’t reach their hearts. They just couldn’t bear any more, and they couldn’t even hear the encouragement God was speaking to them. But God was Lord, even in their inability to hear him speaking to them. He understood their weakness. He felt the burden they had been carrying. His promise to deliver them would be fulfilled not because they trusted him, but because he cared for them.
Some of you today are broken in spirit. You may not even be able to hear the words of encouragement God is offering to you today. It is okay. God understands. His love for you is not dependent upon your ability to respond to his love. His promises remain. He will be faithful. He knows the times our knees falter. He knows when weakness overtakes us. He is the Lord, even in that.
He is our God, and his name is I AM THE LORD.
This article was originally published in the March 2014 Newsletter.