YHWH (Jehovah), I AM

YHWH: Exodus 3:13-15

Moses said to God (Elohim), “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The (Elohim) of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God (Elohim) said to Moses, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘(YHWH), the (Elohim) of your fathers — the (Elohim) of Abraham, the (Elohim) of Isaac and the (Elohim) of Jacob — has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.


Popeye - I yam what I yamI grew up on Saturday morning cartoons. One of my favorites was Popeye, the Sailor Man. One of Popeye’s recurring phrases was “I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam”. As a kid when studying the story of Moses and the burning bush, I drew the pretty awkward parallel of Popeye to Moses’ story in Exodus, and God’s declaration to him :”I AM WHO I AM”. The unsaid but implied conclusion to that statement is “and I AM ALL THAT YOU NEED”.


  • YHWH: from the Hebrew word “havah”, meaning “to be” or “being”. Closely associated with the Hebrew word “chavah”, meaning “to live” or “life”


  • Singular (Exodus 3:15a)

THE God (Elohim) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

“In the name Jehovah the personality of the Supreme is distinctly expressed. It is everywhere a proper name denoting the person of God, and Him only … Elohim … denoting usually … the Supreme. The Hebrew may say the Elohim, the true God, in opposition to all false gods; but he never says the Jehovah, for Jehovah is the name of the true God only. He says again and again, my God or my Elohim, but never my Jehovah, for when he says my God he means Jehovah. He speaks of the God (Elohim) of Israel but never of the Jehovah of Israel, for there is no other Jehovah. He speaks of the living God, but never of the living Jehovah, for he cannot conceive of Jehovah as other than living.”
(from Girdlestone, Old Testament Synonyms)

  • God’s name for His people to use (Exodus 3:15b, 3:18)

Where El and Elohim are more universal names for God, YHWH is used almost specifically in relation to God’s chosen people

  • Self-existent (Isaiah 43:10-11)

The One who in Himself possesses essential life, permanent existence

  • Righteous
    • He loves our righteousness (Psalm 11:7, 18:20-24)
    • He is righteous in all His works(Daniel 9:14)
    • He is just (Genesis 18:23-26)
  • Holy (Leviticus 19:2) also read the endings of the verses following, 9-17)
    • He is the God against whom we sin
    • He is the God to whom we offer our sacrifices
  • Love: He provides the way of salvation for His people
    • Noah brought animals for preservation under Elohim’s direction, but for sacrifice under YHWH’s direction (Genesis 6:22, 7:5, 8:15-21)
    • With Enos, whose name indicates a weak and fallen state and signifies helplessness, men began to call on YHWH.  The attribute of love in YHWH restores us to communion with Himself, even though we have sinned against Him, His righteousness, and His holiness. (Genesis 4)
    • Delivered the Israelites (Exodus 6:6)

YHWH and Jesus

  • The Angel of the LORD and Moses (Exodus 3:2-4)
    • Remember, The Angel of the LORD is not merely an angel, but a preincarnate manifestation of Jesus.
  • The Angel of the LORD and Gideon (Judges 6:11-14, 22-23)
  • Jesus said “I AM”:
    • The Messiah (John 4:25-26)
    • The Bread of Life (John 6:35)
    • From Above (John 8:23)
    • The Eternal One (John 8:58)
    • The Light of the World (John 9:5)
    • The Door (John 10:7, 9)
    • The Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
    • The Son of God (John 10:36-38)
    • The Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-27)
    • The Lord and Master (John 13:13-15)
    • The Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6-7)
    • The True Vine (John 15:1)
    • Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8)
    • The First and the Last (Revelation 1:17)


(From the ESV Study Bible)

There are many who say that Muslims, Jews and Christians all worship the same God. That is not true. True, Muslims worship “the God of Abraham”, but not the “God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”, and the Jews worship the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”, but don’t worship Jesus. Remember, to deny any aspect of YHWH is to deny Him completely.

Praying to God by Name

From “Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler

YHWH (Jehovah)

Reflect On:    Exodus 3:12-15; 20:2-3

Praise God:        For revealing himself through powerful acts of deliverance.

Offer Thanks:     That God has freed you from every form of bondage.

Confess:             Any tendency to forget what God has done for you.

Ask God:           To help you remember his saving acts in your life.

Reflect On:    Psalm 103

Praise God:        Because his goodness never fails.

Offer Thanks:     For God’s continued forgiveness.

Confess:             Any tendency to impute motives to God unworthy of his character.

Ask God:           To break any false images of him that you may have developed.

Reflect On:    Matthew 1:20-21; John 8:54-59

Praise God:        For foreseeing your need for a Savior.

Offer Thanks:     For his delivering power.

Confess:             Your continuing need for God’s forgiveness.

Ask God:           For a living understanding of what Jesus has done for you.

Next: YHWH Yirej (Jehovah Jireh)

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