Devotion and Prayer for Week of November 10, 2013

Meditation for the Week of November 10, 2013

 

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”  God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’”                     Exodus 3: 13-15

 

If you’ve ever seen the classic movie The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston you very likely remember the scene when God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush.  If you remember, the words above are spoken in that scene.  Of course, it’s easy for us to overlook the significance of what our Lord said to Moses in these words.  Sure, we might think of how impressive it is to consider God the definition of existence.  We might think about how nice it was for the Israelites enslaved in Egypt to know that God cared for them.  We maybe would even think about how nice it is for them have that connection to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to worship the same God they did.  But there is in fact much, much more to it.  Far more than I can express in a one-page devotion, but maybe I can scratch the tip of the iceberg.

First of all, we should think about what it means for God to tell them His name.  When thinking about names, we often think about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when Juliet muses, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Well for God it’s not that simple.  For our Lord to give His name to Moses meant a lot: it meant that He was giving Moses and the Israelites access to Him.  Now they could pray specifically to Him.  They could talk to Him and know that He would hear them.  What an important gift!

Secondly, it meant something even more important.  In the Old Testament, God instructed the people to perform sacrifices at what was called the “The Tent of Meeting.”  It was called this because when He was talking about the tent He said, “There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory… I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.” (Exodus 29:43).  Elsewhere God tells Moses to set up this tent and sacrifices only where God causes His Name to dwell (see Deuteronomy 12:10).  So what we see is that God’s name is very closely connected to His presence.  Where His Name was, there He was.

But what does that mean for us as Christians?  Well in the Christmas Story we hear that Jesus is given the name Immanuel, which means “God with us”.  Jesus is also given the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9-11).  This means that in Jesus we see God dwelling with us.  Even more importantly we see that God has promised to be with us!  Jesus calls the church to baptize “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  When we are baptized that means that God puts His name on us.  He promises to care for us. To be our God.  To be present with us!  Just like we write our names on our most highly prized possessions, God has written His name on us, His people – His most highly prized possessions.  Possessions He paid for with His death on the cross.  What wondrous love!  Amen.

 

Our Weekly Prayer 

Lord God, our Heavenly Father, we thank you that by giving us Your name, You have promised to hear us, You have promised to be our God, You have promised that we are Yours.  May our trust always be in Your mercy and Your love as our God.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.