Jacob and his family all move to Egypt to be with Joseph and settle there. By the beginning of the book of Exodus their hosts have enslaved their descendants and they are cruelly treated. God must set them free if they are to be his people as He promised. Through the long years of slavery they must wonder if he has forgotten the promise, but God can never do that. ‘The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Issac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them’ (Exodus 2:23-25).
God begins His rescue operation by appearing to Moses in a burning bush at Horeb (another name for Sinai). He tells him to go to Pharaoh to demand the release of his people. And He reveals a new name to Moses: ‘I AM WHO I AM’ or ‘I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE’ (Exodus 3:14).
It is a strange name for God to give himself. He seems to be saying that no one can encapsulate His character. If we want to know who He is, we must watch Him act in history on behalf of His people. ‘I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE. Do you know who I am, Moses? Then watch me; see what I will do in the future. Then you will know what kind of God I am.
The Bible does not just tell the story of God’s work of salvation; at the same time it reveals God’s character. He is its hero from beginning to end. Sometimes we miss the point by asking too quickly, ‘What is it saying to me?’ A good first question to ask whenever we look at a passage is, ‘What does this tell me about God?’ Very often the application for us will then be obvious. The Bible is, above all, a book about God.
Taken from God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts. Copyright(c) 2002 by Vaughan Roberts. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515