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I AM: The Name of God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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August 18, 2020 12:01 am

I AM: The Name of God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 18, 2020 12:01 am

We do not have to guess about the identity and character of God. He has given us His very name. Today, R.C. Sproul hones in on that consequential moment when the Lord of all creation revealed His name to Moses.

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God revealed himself to Moses in a burning bush.

So Moses has this momentary encounter with the holy. And the closer he gets, the more afraid he becomes. And when he hears the voice of God and the voice of God sends him on a mission. Wait a minute. Who am I that I should go on this mission?

And that's a familiar reaction throughout scripture, whenever someone encounters the holiness of God. Their response is the same. They're filled with terror. Today, I'm Renewing Your Mind, we continue Dr. Arcy Scrolls series, Moses and the Burning Bush. How can an unholy people stand before a holy God? This week we're seeing that God answered that question with one of the most profound theology lessons recorded in scripture. Well, let's go to Dr. Swoll now for this lesson titled I Am the Name of God.

In this session, we're going to continue looking at the implications from the event that is recorded in the Book of Exodus of Moses encounter with God at the burning bush, that Bush that was burning but was not consumed.

God had spoken to Moses and said, I have seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt.

And I've heard their cry because of their taskmasters for I know their sorrow. Now, there are three verbs here that I want to say, get a hold of that. Tell us something about God.

At first it says I've surely seen. The oppression of my people. For the gods are scoring more. Second thing he says, I have heard. Their cry. So we know that the God who is revealed here is not blind. Nor a deaths.

Or he Egnar writes, because he goes on to say, Because I know of the sorrows that they have borne.

And so then he announces to Moses the purpose of this divine visitation.

He said, So I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them out to the place of milk and honey and so on. And he said, come now and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you might bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

Now, first thing that Moses says to God in response to this is a question. Moses question is this, who am I? All of a sudden, Moses apparently doesn't know he is.

He hears this mandate from God. God is telling him to go on this mission in God's behalf and behalf of the people.

Who am my to do this.

So the first thing that happened in his encounter with God was he became confused about his own identity. Do you ever read Calvin's institutes? And if you answer that question by saying no, then I respond to you shame or you're missing one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written on the things of God. Second only to the Bible in terms of the majesty of this book. You need to read it and reread it. And then when you're done with that, read it again. But Calvin begins the institute's by saying, we never know who we are.

Until we first know. Who, Haggadahs?

Again, remember in Isaiah six, after Isaiah saw God high and holy and lifted up and heard the angelic chorus three times only, what was his response?

He pronounced a curse upon himself, saying, woe is me.

For I'm a man of unclean lips. I'm not alone. I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips because for the first time in his life, dear ones, I say, I've found out who God was. And at the same time, for the first time in his life, he found out who Hasan was.

And that's what Calvin is getting to, said if we just look at ourselves and then judge ourselves among other people around us and compare ourselves with each other. Pretty soon we will have such an inflated view of our own greatness that we will address ourselves as only slightly less than DMI gods. That is, as long as our gaze is fixed to the Earth's.

But if by chance we would lift our eyes to heaven, we would see the brightness of the sun into which we cannot gaze directly for it would destroy us.

But as soon as we consider what kind of a being God is. That immediately has the holy man of all did we tremble as we are aware of our feet of clay and of our frames of dust?

So Moses has this momentary encounter with the holy. And the closer he gets, the more afraid he becomes. And when he hears the voice of God and the voice of God sends him on a mission.

Wait a minute.

Who am I?

That I should go on this mission. And so God said.

I will certainly be with you. He doesn't really answer Moses questions to who Moses is. He just said, don't worry about who you are. Because I'm going to be with you.

And this shall be assigned to you that I've sent you when you have brought out the people of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain. Now we get to the crux of the matter.

Knows a set of cards, indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, the Gothard your father says sent me to you. And they say to me, what is his name?

What shall I say to them, so now you see where Moses is directing his interrogation. He's no longer asking the question. I my.

What's he asking? Who are you? What's your name?

We started Ligonier Ministries about 40 years ago in the very early days of that ministry. I had somebody come and ask me the question, what are you trying to do? What's your mission? What's the purpose of this ministry that you've put together? And I told him, what does a teaching ministry to help ground Christians in the war of God and so on. And he says, well, what is it that you want to teach people that the people in this country don't know? I said, that's easy. Who? Godey's.

I said, I know that everybody in the world knows that God is because God is so clearly manifest that himself to all of them in creation, that men are left without excuse because his general revelation has pierced their minds.

They know he exists.

They hate him. And I said in large measure, that's because they know he is. They don't have any idea who he is. And the fellow said, fine, he says, but what do you think is the most important thing that Christians need to know in this day and age? I said, that's easy. And he said, what? I said, Christians need to find out. Who got his? I think the greatest weakness of the church in our day is the virtual eclipse of the character of God, even in our churches. Talk to a woman wants her P.H. Day in Psychology, who was a member of a church on the West Coast.

And she was very angry and she came to me. That's what's the matter.

She said, you know, I go to church every Sunday and I get the feeling that our minister is doing everything he can to conceal from us the character of God, because he knows that if he really opened up the scriptures and proclaimed the character of God as he's portrayed in the Bible, he's afraid that people would leave the church.

Because they're uncomfortable in the presence of the Holy Moses wasn't the first person to hide his face in the presence of God. That started in the Garden of Eden with the flight into the trees by Adam and Eve, who hid themselves. Out of Shea. And so Moses asked the question. Who are you? What's your name?

If you even have a name, you'd already real stuff, I'm the God of your father, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Well, I know that. But what's your name? Now, before we explore that question further, I want to relate another incident that I observed on television about 30 years ago, national television. There was an interview by David Frost of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the famous atheist militant atheist.

And then this interview, David Frost, who is fighting for the angels and debating with Madalyn Murray about the existence of God. And she was getting more and more angry and more and more frustrated. So David Frost decided to settle the debate in the classic American way by having a vote and counting noses. And so he put it to the studio audience.

He said, how many of you people out there? There were about 30 people out there. How many of you believe in some kind of God, some kind of higher power, something greater than yourself?

Everybody raised their.

And I waited for Madeline Murray's response because I was sure I could predict what she would say.

But she fooled me altogether.

You know, she said she said, well, what we expect from the uneducated masses, these people haven't got out of their intellectual infancy. They're still, you know, brainwashed from the culture and this mythology of God. And she went on this tirade insulting everybody in the studio audience. And that's not what I expected her to do. You know what I thought she would do? I thought she would turn the tables right there. And David Frost. I thought she would go to the audience and say, well, let me ask you this. You believe in some kind of higher power. You believe in something greater yourself. Let me ask is how many of you believe in your.

To go to the bottom.

The God who demands that you have no other gods in front of him. The God who sends men, women and children to hell forever and condemn people because they don't believe in this mythical Jesus.

Because I wonder how the vote would have changed when all of a sudden the question was asked with more clarity. But it's almost an institution in our culture, in our nation to describe God has a higher power.

Something greater. Than ourselves. What's that? The force be with you. What is this higher power? Gravity. Lightning. Earthquakes.

Now, one thing about this nebulous, amorphous, nameless, perilous powers is that, first of all, it is in personal. And second of all, and most important, it is are moral. There's an upside and a downside to worshiping a higher power, a nameless, faceless.

Force. By gravity or cosmic dust or light.

Or thunder.

Here's the upside to a center.

A force that is impersonal and on moral. Makes no ethical demands on anybody.

Gravity does not make judgments about people's behavior unless they jump out of Windows six stories high. And even at that, there is no personal condemnation that comes.

From gravity. Or an earthquake. Gravity has no voice. It says nothing. It sees nothing. And it knows nothing.

We could describe this higher force. That is the God of our culture. Like the three monkeys, see no evil. Hear no evil.

Speak no evil.

Nobody's conscience is Sered. By gravity. If the higher power is impersonal and all morning, that gives you a license. To behave any way you want to behave.

With impunity.

But what's the downside? The downside is that there's nobody home. Out there. That this force means. That in the universe.

There is no personal got no personal redeemer. What kind of self berbick relationship can you have? With Thunder.

Thunder makes noise. Thunder booms through the skies.

But in terms of content, it's mute. It's tongue tied. It has no revelation. It gives no hope. And gravity. Has never been able to forgive anybody.

For their sins.

And the first thing we see here, God's answer to Moses.

Is so different from a comment I hear every week from the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I listen religiously every week to Mike Tomlin's press conference. And it seems like after every game, the press corps asks him the same question every week.

And it's like you can just run the tape. I know what Tomlin is going to say to those reporters before he says it. He's going to say, mom, my focus is what we did wrong last week.

My focus is on the next guy. He always says that a I. Well, what about this? And what about that?

And every time he says, well, it is what it is.

Redundancy, of course. But you say that's the name of the God of America.

It is. What it is.

And when God asked Moses for his name, he didn't say it is what it is.

He said, I am who I am.

Way. That's my name. And the very first thing that God reveals about himself in that name. Is that his personal? But he can see he can here, he can know he can speak. He can relate. To those creatures he made in his own image. He is the God who brought up his people out of the land of Egypt. He said God with the name of God with the history.

I taught a course in college many years ago on theology, and we were studying the names of God. And I was trying to illustrate the significance of the names of God and what they reveal about God's character to the class. And just the beginning of the class, this girl, I'll call her Mary, walked in the room and she walked in a strange, somewhat awkward demeanor. She walked in like this. And anybody that look her, if she didn't really watch it and like this, could see the glittering diamond ring on her left hand. And I said, wait a minute, Mary. I said, do I see a diamond ring on your finger? She said, yes. I said, Are you engaged? And she said, yes. I said, To whom are you engaged? And she pointed to her boyfriend in the back row. His name was George. Yes. To John. I said, Well, congratulations. Do you mind if I ask you a question? She said, What's that? I said. When you say you're going to marry him, I assume that you love him. Is that a safe assumption? She said, yes.

I said, Well, tell me, why do you love. Front of the whole class, I ask this, why do you love Joy? And she said, because he's so handsome.

I said, Well, yes, he is very good looking. But look at Bill back there. He was the escort to the queen this year. I said homecoming queen. I said, don't you think he could look all? Yeah, Bill's very handsome. I said, well, then there's got to be something else about John besides that he's handsome. And she said, well, he's so athletic. I said, yes, he is. He's good. So does the captain, the basketball team. He's athletic, too. So why don't you love Bill instead of John? She's starting to get frustrated now. She said, well. John, so intelligent. I said he is. He's very good student. Of course, Bill's probably going to be the valedictorian of the class.

So you're not. Get that, Mary.

There's got to be something else about John that distinguishes him from Bill in your eyes and in your appreciation of something unique to him that causes you to have this great affection. Now, don't waste the rest of the period. Let's name the child. Let's get on with it. What is it about him that makes you love him so much that she really got frustrated? She said, well, I love him because I love him. Because I love him. Because he's because he's John.

Say, when you wanted to come back to the crystalize essence.

Who he is and what he means in terms of your relationship and your personal history with them.

It all came back. To.

And that's why when we look at God, we know. That his name. Is one. Because in that Morhaim, he reveals manifold things about the excellent of his being and the perfections of his character.

That's why the Saints are called.

If they said tell us everything you know about God, they would finally say.

And that's a name that leaves no room for doubt, God is self existence, all powerful and completely holy. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Tuesday. I'm Lee Webb and we are concentrating this week on Dr. Arcy sprawl series Moses and the Burning Bush throughout the series as he shows us the meaning behind Gods appearance in that burning bush. And for your gift of any amount today, we'd like to send you the two DVD set of the series. You can request it when you go online at Renewing Your Mind dot org. Or you can call us at 800, four, three, five, four, three, four, three. We learned today that God is personal, knowable and moral. He places high demands on his creation. But we also realize that this all knowing all powerful God is full of mercy. Our only hope is to place our trust in him and the immeasurable grace he offers to those who believe. If you enjoy studying the Bible and theology in depth, like we did today with our you will want to explore, ligate, air, connect. It's an online learning community with interactive video courses for growing Christians. You can choose from 800 lessons across 70 courses covering the Bible theology, Christian living world view and church history. And you can learn more when you go to connect Dot Ligonier dot org.

Well, it seems our world is obsessed with freedom and independence. According to the Bible, though, that's not possible. Actually, the desire for that kind of independence is what plunged us into sin in the Garden of Eden. Tomorrow, Arcy continues the series by showing us that we are creatures who are dependent upon guy. That's Wednesday here on Renewing Your Mind.

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