“I am the Lord.” Better; “I am Yahweh.” Best, “I am YHWH” (Exodus 6:8).
Premises for immovable faith do not get any greater or morse solid than this. This is “The Name.” It is His name. This is the name God gives Himself when interacting with Moses and thereafter throughout the Old Testament. There are several names by which God reveals Himself; Elohim and El Shaddai probably being the most common of the others, but YHWH was the most sublime in its significance and meaning.
It is so awesome to explain, and its significance so great to ponder that even the pronouncing of the word was shied away from by God fearing Jews. I have always read and understood that whenever the scribes were copying the scriptures by hand, that they would stop and have a thorough bath before they dared to even write it down (That means a lot of baths, because it is in the Old Testament many times). It is known as the Tetragrammaton – “The Four Letters.” The vowels are, of course, added so that English readers have no trouble in pronouncing it. The challenge to write it in English means that different scholarly translators have made varied attempts to Anglicise the transliteration. YHVH, JHVH, Yahweh, Jah and of course, the more universally known Jehovah. Shakespeare occasionally refers to “Jove.” Some early English translators tried with, “I am that I am.”
What does it mean? In all the books, lectures sermons and studies I have entered into concerning the Four Letters, and even my in depth chats with Jewish Rabbis and people fluent in both biblical and modern Hebrew, I can only express it as follows:
“I am He who never changes. What and who I was in time past and before time, is exactly the same as what and who I am at this moment, which is identical to what I always and forever shall be to the end of time and thereafter. I am the one who speaks and keeps covenants, promises and commitments. I never change and am absolutely sworn to keep my spoken and intimated commitments. This is my very nature and character.” “I am that Iam” is succinct and infers a little of the full depth.
You ask, “How can all that be embedded in the Four Letters?” If my readers Google the words used above, and then consult the sites and biblical study books one would see that, believe it or not, I may have even understated the breadth of meaning.
Therefore, when God makes any statement or promise, and either prefixes or suffixes the statement with, “I am the LORD” (I am Yahweh), one can be at peace that God Himself is on that case. This premise for faith is secure.
To make the point concrete, look at the rest of Exodus 6:8. The first part of the verse is an incredibly huge promise made 430 years earlier to Abraham, repeated to Isaac and Jacob. “I will bring you into the land , concerning which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you as an inheritance. I am the Lord.”
The Four Letters are used in connection with a promise which, even though it was more than four centuries earlier, was as certain and as rock sure as ever. Yahweh is the God of the Big Picture, as well as the God of the minute human detail. God was working out his eternal promises and purposes and taking Israel out of Egypt with all the decimation of Egypt through the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day …all this when seen in the context of the eternal purpose of God seems like little cogs in an incredibly large wheel. This is Yahweh.
When Yahweh Himself, therefore, attaches the Tetragrammaton to certain activities it means that they are not things that He is doing, but are actually who He is. “I am Yahweh-Jireh” (I am Yahweh your provider) means that He is not providing as a one off special. He is eternally and everlastingly a provider. “I am Yahweh-Rapha,” (I am Yahweh your Healer) means that Healer of all diseases is what He is. The premise of what He is is the assurance of what He will do. There are several of the so called “Covenant names of Yahweh.” Most preachers teach about seven of them, as if that was all. The Newbury Bible lists ten or eleven of them. Utterly exhilarating!
The premise could not be more secure as it is actually a reference to the very character and nature of God. Nothing inscrutable about this. It is the clear and most definite declaration of God’s character and intention in the firmest of ways. “I am the never changing, eternally the same God who is by nature, and therefore by action your healer, provider, your rallying point (banner), your righteousness, your shepherd, your companion and your peace.
You ask me why I believe?