When God called Moses, he had actually chosen a strong candidate to be Israel’s deliverer.
For the previous 40 years, Moses had led sheep through the very wilderness God wanted Israel to escape through. That meant he knew the terrain, the mountain passes, and the watering holes. As a herder of sheep, he knew something about managing unruly crowds. And, as a former son of Pharaoh, he had learned how to read and write legal documents and set up a government. The burning bush should have been Moses’ Karate Kid moment, where he finally saw how all of his preparation would pay off.
But Moses couldn’t see that at the time. His thoughts were dominated by the insecurities that always come when you focus on yourself. In time, he would come to see these things and appreciate God’s sovereign preparation of him for the task. When he was called, though, he only saw his lack of potential.
But what is most interesting is that God, in trying to give Moses confidence, doesn’t point to any of Moses’ potential, even though it was there. He doesn’t say, “Moses, wake up! I have been preparing you! You have what it takes!” Instead, he simply says, “Moses, I am with you. Walk forward in confidence, knowing that what I have called you to, I will supply you for.”
And as Moses did that, he started to see how God had indeed been ever-present in his life, preparing him all along for this great work.
God doesn’t deal with Moses’ insecurities by teaching him anything about Moses. God deals with Moses’ insecurities by calling him to focus on who God is.
Confidence doesn’t come from a clearer self-assessment. Confidence comes from a clearer view of God.
So, when Moses says, “But God, I am not good enough or skilled enough or confident enough!” God says, “I know, I AM. I didn’t choose you because you were any of those things. I have enough of all those things for the both of us. You are not, but I AM God enough.”
Throughout Israel’s history, God would re-invoke this I AM name whenever Israel was in a time of great need and attach to it whatever they lacked—whatever he planned to supply for them in himself.
The name “I AM” is used 6,519 times in the Old Testament alone!
- In Exodus, when the people of Israel were wounded and sick because of their sin, God revealed himself as Jehovah Rapha (literally, I AM your healer).
- In Leviticus, when Moses laid out the Law, the people said, “Who could ever live this way?” God answered with Jehovah Mekoddishkem(I AM your Sanctifier, I am the God who enables you to walk with me).
- When Jeremiah was discouraged by Israel’s persistent inability to walk faithfully before God and said, “How can we survive? We are so sinful!” God said Jehovah Tsidkenu(I AM your righteousness).
- In Ezekiel’s day, when the people of Israel felt scared and alone and besieged by enemies all around, God said Jehovah Shammah(I AM the God who is ever present).
- When David felt lost and confused, he called God Jehovah-Raah(I AM the Lord your Shepherd).
- To Abraham, who faced an impossible circumstance, God said Jehovah Jireh(I AM your Provider).
- And to Isaiah, who wasn’t sure how he would survive another day, God said Jehovah Sabaoth(I AM your Defender, the God who fights for you).
In the New Testament, Jesus takes this “I AM” name to himself and applies it very intimately to our greatest areas of brokenness and need:
- To those who hunger, he says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).
- To those who thirst, he says, “I am the living water” (John 7:38-39).
- To those in darkness, Jesus declares, “I am the light” (John 8:12).
- To those who need a fresh start, “I am the gate” (John 10:9).
- To those who feel abandoned, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11).
- To those who feel lost, “I am the way” (John 14:6).
- To those who are confused, “I am the truth” (John 14:6).
- To those afraid of death, “I am the life” (John 14:6).
This is what Jesus wants to be to you. To the unrighteous, Jesus says, “I will be your righteous covering.” To the powerless he says, “I will be your defense.” To the empty he says, “I’ll be your fullness.” To the dead, he says, “I’ll be your resurrection,” and to the defeated he says, “I’ll be your hope.”
The Bible’s message, you see, is not about your self-actualization. It’s not a message about your hidden potential. The Bible is about God: what God did for you and what he can accomplish through you.
The gospel is not that God would help us become righteous enough for him. The gospel is that Jesus was righteous in our place and died the death we should have died so that we could be given his righteousness as a gift in his place. The Christian life, you see, is not about moral improvement. It’s about Christ working the power of a new life in you and through you.
For all that we need, all that we lack, all that we could never be in ourselves, Jesus is the great I AM.
Moses was not enough. You are not enough. I am not enough.
But God is God enough for Moses and you and me. Only when we see that we are not, will we be ready to lean into the great I AM.