22nd Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 27c] November 10, 2019
1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13 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?” 14 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.'” 15 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.
In the Name of Jesus.
Well, you can’t give yourself a name. A name is given. It’s bestowed. Bestowed by someone who is over you, or who precedes you.
A mom and dad bestow the name upon the little girl or boy, the little child doesn’t name self. A homerun hitter ends up named as “Hammerin’ Hank,” or a fullback as “Moose,” or a power forward as “The Mailman,” not because they put the name on themselves, but someone else—a coach or some fans—bestowed the name.
It’s not as if when you are named, say, George, you can choose for yourself a new name and require that everyone start calling you, say, “T-Bone.” You would just end up looking silly.
If a man ends up meeting his long-lost father and yelling, “My name is Sue, how do you do?”, at least it is known that the terrible name was bestowed by the father.
You can’t give yourself a name. A name is given. It defines, it identifies, it calls upon the person.
And that makes sense. For the one bestowing the name is the one giving the gifts. The greater one caring for the lesser. So mom and dad bestow the name on the child—they will be giving that child all the gifts of the family name. My dog doesn’t name me, but I name him—I will be caring for him, feeding him, and he won’t be helping me make the mortgage payment.
The one bestowing the name is the one giving the gifts. Exodus 3:14:
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.'”
Who will name God? He’s the one who gives the gifts. He reveals his Name as a gift to the sinner, to us.
If we named God, he would not be God, but an idol of our making.
If we named God, he would fit our expectations, be subject to our desires—which would be revealed in the name we bestowed—and in that way, he would not be God unless we made a decision for him to be our God, unless we called him into our hearts. But a God who is not your God until you make a decision for him, or until you call him into your heart, this is no God, but an idol.
Who will name God? Who will make a decision for him? The true God is the one who gives gifts. He reveals his Name. He gives his name to the sinner. He is defined by no one—it’s all there in his Name.
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.’”
That verb “I Am,” in the Hebrew is the word Yahweh.
Yahweh, that’s all it is—the verb meaning, I Am. In the Hebrew, the verb is a much more complete and full than that. It means not only I Am in the present, but also, I have been, and I will continue to be, and, I cause to be.
So the voice of God speaking to Moses from the burning bush did not just reveal God to be the true God, that is, the one who is, rather than the one who is only if we cause him to be by making a decision for him, but the voice in the bush was God revealing himself as the one who is, who was, who will continue to be, and who causes to be. That is, he is not only the Living God but, in that, the God who is giving all life.
He gives life. This is our Creator.
But how do you give life to a sinner? How will God give life to a creature who acts as if he’s not a creature, but is one who has his own life in his hands and, not only that, but is one who thinks God is subject to him, even to the extent that he has the power to determine whether or not he will choose to make a decision for God?
How do you give life to a sinner?
God is not only our Creator. He is our Redeemer. Not only the One who created life, but the One who redeemed fallen life, so that the Old Adam of sin is, by the Gospel, recreated as the New Adam of faith.
It’s all there in his Name.
He revealed his Name to Moses: Yahweh, the God who was, who is, who will be, and who causes all things to be.
Then a child a born. The Virgin is with child and will bear a Son. What name will Mary and Joseph bestow on the child? Matthew 1:21:
[The angel said,] “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Jesus is our English pronunciation. The Hebrew pronunciation would have been closer to Yeshuah, which means Yahweh saves.
By Mary and Joseph, the Father in Heaven bestows the Name upon his Son, the Name by which we are to know him and call upon him, and it is the Name Yeshuah, Jesus, this One is Yahweh saving his people from their sins.
Whose voice was that speaking from the burning bush, saying to Moses, I Am? It’s the One being held in Mary’s arms. It’s the One who stood before Pilate to let himself be crucified in the place of every sinner. It’s the One who is called Yahweh-saves, Jesus, for he saves his people from their sins.
The one whose voice spoke to Moses from the burning bush, he’s the One who bestowed his Name upon you and me and our families in Baptism, so that in Baptism, we who are sinners, who can in no way make a decision for Christ, we now bear the Holy Name and we belong to salvation.
The one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, he still speaks. He is the God who was, who is, who will be, who causes all things to be, and he causes you and me to be his own.
He still speaks. Not in the flames of a burning bush, that belongs to Moses, and it was never promised to us. Not in the flames of our own burning hearts, he never promised us that, and our hearts are sinful.
He speaks to us in his Word. His Word of Scripture. His Word he has preached in the Church. His Word of Gospel. His Word by which he comes to us to forgive our sins and make us his own. His speaks to us in His Word, and by that Word, he gathers us to himself, to his Body and Blood.
Every time he gathers us to his Body and Blood he is gathering us to his Name, he is placing us on Holy Ground, he is cleansing us from all unholiness, bestowing on us all the gifts of the Name.
In the Name of Jesus.