Friday, October 30, 2015

before Abraham was, I AM

The Word for today:
John 8:30-59
mark this: John 8:57-58 --
Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
God's name--"I AM"--takes no object, because the completion lies in itself.
Let's say I come up to you and say, "I am." You'll be waiting for the rest of the phrase, because when I say, "I am," it begs the question: You are what?
But God is the self-existent one, complete in himself.
If the grammatical isn't dramatic for you--if that discussion of the objective and subjective doesn't grab you, that's alright. We'll move on.
God has a lot of names in the Bible, but his most complete, all-encompassing name--which Jesus evokes in John 8:58--is spelled 'YHWH' in the Hebrew language. (The Hebrews left out vowels in order to save space and parchment, so exactly what the vowels were has been lost to us.)
The name "I AM" is derived from the Hebrew verb 'hayah,' which means "to be." It was revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God appeared in the burning bush. Notice that 'hayah' is the same, whether it's read forward or backward. The future and the past are undifferentiated in the "Am."
Q. Wow! That is out there! But I've never seen "YHWH" in my Bible.
A. That's because the Jews would not write it or say it, for fear of breaking the third commandment. So they wrote it in a form called the tetragrammaton: "YHWH." It is rendered as "LORD" in most English Bibles, in all capitals.
Q. This is too much to remember.
A. It is. The name of God is a vast subject. What you should remember going forward are two things:
1. In John 8:58, Jesus claims to be God. He states his claim in the clearest terms possible, the highest terms that language affords--invoking the very name of God. There were no words available to him by which he could state his claim any more forcefully or certainly. The Pharisees clearly understood Jesus' statement to be a declaration of His deity. They took up stones to kill Him, because they considered it blasphemy to even say YHWH, let alone claim to be YHWH.
By using the present tense "I Am" in speaking of existence more than 2000 years earlier--before Abraham--he is claiming a transcendence over time that could only be true of God.
2. Remember the burning bush! God revealed his name --"I AM" / "Jehovah" / "YHWH" / "LORD"--when he appeared as a burning bush. Exodus 3:2 tells us the bush was burning but it was not consumed.
Know your elements: fire is an image of judgment in scripture. This bush, under judgment yet remaining alive, is one of the most complete pictures of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ in all of scripture.
The Bible student who can link "I AM" to the burning bush, and the burning bush to the cross, is beginning to hear the "Symphony of Scripture!"

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