WEEK THREE•DAY TWO
Theophany is a “big word” for the manifestation of God to man. In Exodus 3, God first manifests to Moses as a burning bush ablaze without consumption. God also reveals himself to Moses in voice. He speaks, calling to Moses. Moses listens. God tells Moses that he will free the Israelites in Egypt, and reaffirms that he is their God. Moses, like many of us, is unsure. What is he to do? Does God have a name?
God responds to Moses’ questions by answering him, “I am who am” (Exodus 3:14). How can he go to his people and say, “I am who am sent me to free you”? How can Moses explain who God is? God simply is. Moses is in the presence of presence. In this passage, God is a verb. God is.
God’s “is-ness” is as impossible to grasp as his name. In our human experience, we can scarcely comprehend the supernatural, metaphysical, transcendental nature of God, of YHWH. The Tetragrammaton, which means four letters, or YHWH resides at the bottom of our illumination. Resting on top of the letters, we see the words: the bread, the gate, the way, the light, the truth. Jesus, the Word made flesh, often spoke these words with the phrase “I am.”
I am (who am) the bread.
I am (who am) the gate.
I am (who am) the way.
I am (who am) the light.
I am (who am) the truth.
Like Moses before us, we have both a visual and linguistic theophany, telling us who God is. Trusting in the words Jesus proclaims, we know that he is. He is all of these and more for us.
Pamela Larson Sherlock is a M.A. candidate studying systematics at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. She is a wife and mother. A former trainer of thoroughbred race horses, librarian, and herder of sheep chickens, cats, dogs, and goats, she lives in New Prague, MN with her family and Wonder Dog Melvin.