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Moses: “I Know Thee by Name”

4 min

Of all the many men and women in Scripture who served the Lord, Moses had a unique and elevated appreciation for God’s name. As such, this man’s name became tied to the Almighty’s. Five times in Scripture, Moses is given the title “Moses the man of God.” In Exodus 33:17, the Lord said to Moses directly, “I know thee by name.”

Reared by his faithful parents in his earliest days, Moses was eventually brought to the court of Pharaoh. There he was trained in “all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22). The Bible also records a life-changing decision made by this man: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26).

All men today have the very same choice. We can decide to take the side of the world and the pleasurable enjoyments that it has to offer, or we can decide to take a humble step of faith and bear the “reproach of Christ” as we seek to honor His name in daily life.

One day, when an Egyptian overseer was tormenting a Hebrew slave, Moses killed the oppressor. Intending to keep the episode a secret, Moses hid the body of the dead Egyptian in the sand. But, when his deed was reported to Pharaoh, Moses was forced to flee for his life to the “backside of the desert” (Exodus 3:1). In the wilderness of Sinai, Moses met the shepherdess Zipporah and her sisters. Moses became a shepherd for her father, and he also married Zipporah. He shepherded for forty years, tending the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro.

It was in the same wilderness that God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. God called Moses to return to Egypt and lead the children of Israel out of bondage and into the Promised Land. Moses asked the Lord a significant question in Exodus 3:13. “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” Moses was asking for the source of his authority.

The answer Moses received was simple yet profound: “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God alone is uncreated and self-existent. Jehovah, the Eternal One, was willing and able to show Himself strong on behalf of His people whom He was about to redeem. “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (verse 14). In calling Moses to a difficult task, He empowered Moses with the authority of His own name.

In our own lives, God will sometimes call us from our comfort and security and ask us to honor His name by giving us a difficult task. Have you ever been challenged by God speaking to you through His Word, calling upon you to make the important decision to honor His name?

Just as God Himself was all that Moses needed, so He will be all that we need for every challenge of life. As we say, “Lord, how can I love my wife as I ought to love her?” He says “I AM.” When we plead with the Lord for deliverance from secret sin and hidden lust, the Lord Jesus says, “I AM.” When we seek to share the Gospel with a lost loved one but sense our own inadequacy, Jesus Christ says, “I AM.”

The staff that Moses carried in his hand for the rest of his life represented the power and authority of the name of Jehovah. This is the rod that had turned into a live serpent in demonstration of God’s power in Pharaoh’s presence. Moses stretched the rod over the Nile River when the Lord turned the river to blood, then over the Red Sea when God parted the waters, and that same staff again over the Valley of Rephidim when God gave Joshua victory over the Amalekites. Moses also used this rod at God’s direction to strike the rock, causing water to gush forth to refresh the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 17:3–6). The staff was known both as the “rod of Moses” and the “rod of God.” From that day at the burning bush to the day that he died on Mount Nebo overlooking the Promised Land, Moses, the man of God, literally carried the name and authority of God with him wherever he went in life.

Indeed, Moses had a unique and elevated appreciation for God’s name. Moses, the human author of the first five books of the Bible, reveals more of God’s names than any other Scripture writer. Some of God’s names Moses used, translated from Hebrew, are as follows:

  • Elohim the Strong One (Genesis 1:1)
  • El Elyon the Most High (Genesis 14:19)
  • El Roi the God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13)
  • El Shaddai the Almighty (Genesis 17:1)
  • El Olam the Everlasting (Genesis 21:33)
  • Jehovah-Jireh the Provider (Genesis 22:14)
  • Jehovah the Living (Exodus 3:14)
  • Jehovah Rapha the Healer (Exodus 15:26)
  • Jehovah-Nissi the Banner (Exodus 17:15)
  • Adonai the Master (Deuteronomy 10:17)

All these names were used by Moses to speak of the multi-faceted nature, character, and attributes of the God of the Bible.

In Exodus 33:18, Moses, seeking reassurance of God’s leading and presence with himself and the nation of Israel, asked God to “shew me thy glory.” God answered with an amazing response: “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by” (verses 21–22). The time that Moses spent in the presence of God’s glory caused his face to shine with a heavenly light (Exodus 34:28–30). 

As New Testament Christians, we are privileged to carry the name of the Lord Jesus Christ wherever we go. Just as Moses spoke to God face-to-face, so we have the privilege of a personal relationship and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Similarly, as Moses carried in his hand the rod of God, so we carry the name of Jesus wherever we go. Likewise, as Moses was the representative of God to Pharaoh, so we are the ambassadors of Jesus Christ to every tongue, tribe, and nation. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). Just as the face of Moses the man of God shone with God’s glory, so our faces are to reflect the light of Christ as we bear His name.

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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