Yahweh – The Self-Existent I AM
The sovereign Creator (Elohim) of Genesis 1 is also the covenant-making Yahweh (Lord). He created everything and formed mankind by special design. The Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) declared Himself to be the eternal, self-existent “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14).
Yahweh and Elohim are the two primary names used for God n the Old Testament, Yahweh being used almost 9000 times and Elohim occurring over 2500 times. Though the name Yahweh (the eternal I AM) is paramount, there is a special significance about the name Elohim that God does not want us to miss. Dr. Richard Bennett (Your Quest for God, 1998, pp. 45-46) explains the meaning of this name as follows:
“In the English language we talk in the plural if we wish to speak of more than one. And we use the singular if we refer to just one. But the Hebrew language can be even more precise, for it uses the dual when referring to two and then the plural when referring to more than two. The distinction between dual and plural (between ‘two’ and ‘three or more’) is very significant in the first name in the Bible that is used for God. ‘Elohim’ is in the plural. However, in another clear statement about God the Bible also says: ‘The Lord our God [Yahweh our Elohim] is one Lord’ (Deut. 6:4). So in the very first verse in the Bible, which is God’s revelation of Himself to man, we are introduced to a three-in-one and a one-in-three concept of God.”
The Meaning of Yahweh
The term ‘one’ which is used in Deuteronomy 6:4 to describe the Lord (Yahweh) our God (Elohim), is echad in Hebrew, which refers to a composite unity as opposed to an absolute unity. It is important to correctly understand this concept since plurality and singularity are combined within the same word. In Genesis 2:24, echad is also used as a composite unity: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” They will still be two persons who constitute one parental unity.
In the Old Testament, the Lord (Yahweh) revealed Himself in many ways to His people, by adding various attributes to His name. He is referred to, among others, as: Yahweh Jireh (“The Lord will Provide” – Gen. 22:14); Yahweh Rophe (“The Lord who Heals” – Ex. 15:26); Yahweh Nissi (“The Lord our Banner” – Ex. 17:15); Yahweh M’Kaddesh (“The Lord who Sanctifies” – Lev. 20:8); Yahweh Shalom (“The Lord our Peace” – Judg. 6:24); Yahweh Tsidkenu (“The Lord our Righteousness” – Jer. 23:6; 33:16); Yahweh Rohi (“The Lord our Shepherd” – Ps. 23); Yahweh Shammah (“The Lord is There” – Ezek. 48:35); and Yahweh Sabaoth (“The Lord of Hosts” – Isa. 1:24).
The three co-eternal, co-equal, and co-self-existent Persons in the Godhead are described as follows by the apostle John in his first Epistle: “For there are three who bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7). All three Persons may be described and addressed as Lord (Heb. Yahweh; Gr. Kurios) and God (Heb. Elohim; Gr. Theos). Paul addressed the incarnate Lord on the road to Damascus: “Who are You, Lord [Yahweh]? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). In Romans 9:5 Paul says of Him: “Christ… is over all, the eternally blessed God [Elohim].” These titles apply to Him during all periods of His timeless existence.
Before His incarnation as Son of God, Jesus was, and still is, the self-existent and eternal God. The apostle John refers to Him as the Logos, who existed since the beginning as God (John 1:1). He was with Elohim and He Himself was Elohim. The third Person is the Spirit of Elohim (Gen. 1:2). He is “the eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14) who also has an eternal self-existence as a Person in the Godhead.
Yahweh is Jesus Christ
People who do not believe that the title Lord, or Yahweh (the eternal I AM), applies to Jesus cannot have their sins forgiven. He said to the unbelieving Jewish leaders: “If you do not believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins… When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you shall know that I am He… Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM!” (John 8:24, 28, 58; Modern King James Version). The Amplified Bible renders John 8:58 as follows, including the cross-reference to Exodus 3:14: “Jesus replied, I assure you, I most solemnly tell you, before Abraham was born, I AM. [Ex. 3:14].” He was not only a human prophet but also God in a human body.
The Lord Jesus as one of the three Persons in the eternal I AM, expressed His divine attributes in many different ways. Some of His key statements are:
“I am from above.” During the discussion by the Lord Jesus on His eternal self-existence as the I AM, He clearly informed the Pharisees on His heavenly origin: “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). John the Baptist testified to the same truth: “He who comes from above is above all; He who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matt. 28:18).
“I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” (John 14:10). He also said: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35).
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me… shall live” (John 11:25).
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
“I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23). Christ did not only come to save us, but also to use us in His service (Acts 1:8). The testimony of Christians is the way appointed by Him to invite people everywhere into His kingdom. Faithful servants of the Lord will be rewarded for their service, while the wicked will be condemned because of their evil works: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:13). “He is the image of the invisible God, … by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, … He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the church…” (Col. 1:15-18).
“I am the Root and the Offspring of David” (Rev. 22:16). Christ is the origin and God of David but, in His capacity as man, also the descendant and son of David.
“I am… the Bright and Morning Star.” (Rev. 22:16). The morning star appears during the last night watch when the night is at its coldest and darkest. The message of this star’s appearance is that the night will soon end with the dawning of a bright new day (Rom. 13:12). The church dispensation is described as a dark period, hence the command that Christians must be the light of a dark world (Matt. 5:14-16; Luke 12:35). When this night is far spent and the new day is approaching, the Bright and Morning Star will suddenly appear above a dark horizon and will in an unseen, secret way of which the world is unaware, snatch away His bridal congregation (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). This is a solemn warning to all the adversaries of Jesus Christ, who deny His virgin birth, His deity as the I AM, His resurrection, ascension, and the promise of His second coming, as well as the great significance of His atoning death. Think again! He reveals Himself and His Father to you through His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Those who reject Him do so at their own peril. You can also have and encounter with Him like Saul on the road to Damascus: “[Saul] heard a voice saying to Him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, Who are you, Lord (Yahweh)? And the Lord (Yahweh) said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:4-5).
He is the “King of kings and the Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). The Lord Jesus is indeed the King of kings who will judge the living and the dead and rule as King forever. Before His second coming in power and glory, the following announcement will be made from heaven: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, en He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
(Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.)
Full Acknowledgement to Prof. Johan Malan of Bible Guidance for writing this article. This article called “Yahweh – The Self-Existent I AM” are used with full permission and written agreement from the original writer. “Yahweh – The Self-Existent I AM” was written for Yahweh is King.
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