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56

Part One

The living God

205

God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns

without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of

Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

9

God is the God

of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs

in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who

remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descen-

dants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and

time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his

almighty power to work for this plan.

“I Am who I Am”

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’ . . . this is

my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered through-

out all generations.”

10

206

In revealing his mysterious name,

Yhwh

(“

I Am He who

Is

,” “

I Am who Am

” or “

I Am who I Am

”), God says who he is and

by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious

just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something

like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what

he is—infinitely above everything that we can understand or say:

he is the “hidden God,” his name is ineffable, and he is the God

who makes himself close to men.

11

207

By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his

faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the

past (“I am the God of your fathers”), as for the future (“I will be

with you”).

12

God, who reveals his name as “IAM,” reveals himself

as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to

save them.

208

Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence,

man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush,

Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of

God’s holiness.

13

Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah

9

Ex

3:6.

10

Ex

3:13-15.

11 Cf.

Isa

45:15;

Judg

13:18.

12

Ex

3:6. 12.

13 Cf.

Ex

3:5-6.

2575

268

43

724