Lent • Day 16

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4,5

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:8-12

For generations, faithful Jews have prayed the words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4,5 known as the Shema.

This daily recitation reminds them to hear, obey, and love the LORD.

But LORD is not God’s name.

The Jews so reverenced God’s name that they replaced it in their scriptures with Adonai, which means master or lord. Adonai is translated LORD – all capitalized – in our English Bibles today.

When Jews read or hear the word Adonai they recall God’s actual name – the name God first shared with Moses.

In Exodus 3, God appeared to Moses in a blazing bush and ordered him to deliver God’s people from slavery in Egypt. But there were many gods in Egypt, so he wondered: What if they ask for the name of the god who has sent me?

God said, “Tell them EHYEH has sent you to them.” (Exodus 3:14)

EHYEH means I Will Be. The voice booming from the burning bush belonged to a spiritual being who is and who will be. This god’s existence didn’t depend on anything or anyone else to exist. This god simply is. And – no matter what – always will be.

It wouldn’t have made grammatical sense for Moses to tell the Egyptians “I Will Be has sent me.” That name only sounded right coming from the god’s own mouth…or bush.

So the voice in the flames also gave Moses a name Moses could use when referring to the god: “YAHWEH.” Moses was to tell them, “He Will Be – the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.”

Picture Moses walking into pharaoh’s palace; past gods chiseled by masons, smelted by blacksmiths, carved by craftsmen; announcing that he had come to deliver a message from He Will Be.

God who was not made but simply is.

God who does not rust or rot but always will be.

Every morning and every evening, Jewish people have pledged to hear and obey He Will Be. In shackles, through the Red Sea, in the wilderness, at the banks of the Jordan, into Canaan, under judges and kings, exiled far from home, occupied by Persians and Syrian and Greeks and Romans, waiting for Messiah…

Wherever and whenever they are, He Will Be.


• What am I trusting in that will rust and rot?

Our Prayer

Living God, where have we ever gone that you haven’t been? Remind us.

Where will we go today that you will not already be? Meet us.