Commentary

 

I am

     

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

Moses sees a bush that burns but is not consumed.

In the Old Testament, Jehovah -- once -- calls Himself "I AM". In Hebrew, the word is אֶהְיֶה , which has the meaning of "being", or "coming into being". This naming occurs in Exodus, when God appears to Moses in a burning bush, in the wilderness of Mount Horeb. It is one of the main spiritual turning points in the Bible, and the source of one of its deepest statements about God.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were now slaves in Egypt. They were numerous, but their connection with their forebears and with the land of Canaan was tenuous. The Pharaoh of that time "knew not Joseph". Their spiritual progress had stalled out.

Jehovah chooses Moses, herding sheep in the desert, to go back to Egypt and lead his people to freedom.

"And Moses said to God, 'Behold, I come to the sons of Israel, and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO is I AM'; and He said, 'Thus shalt thou say to the sons of Israel: I AM has sent me to you'." (Exodus 3:13, 14)

"I AM". It goes right to the very core of existence. Bigger than space, beyond time, uncreated.

Then, after many hundreds of years, with some people in Judea and its environs still waiting for the promised Messiah, Jesus says the same thing. People sit up and take notice.

When the disciples are in a storm-wracked sea in a small boat, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water:

"But straightway Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Have confidence; I am; be not afraid'." Matthew 14:27

In the Gospel of John, there are several of these statements:

When Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well:

The woman says to Him, "I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ; when He has come, He will announce to us all things." Jesus says to her, "I am, who speaks to thee." John 4:25, 26

Then we find this conversation between Jesus and his disciples:

"I said then to you that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins. Therefore they said to Him, Who art thou? And Jesus said to them, The Beginning, who also am speaking to you. John 8:24, 25

Later, in the same chapter, Jesus said to the disciples,

"Amen, amen, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58

In chapter 13, again, Jesus is talking with the disciples at the Last Supper:

"From henceforth I tell you before it come to pass, that when it has come to pass, you may believe that I am." John 13:19

Finally, when Jesus is being arrested, there's this powerful scene:

"Judas then, having received a band of soldiers and attendants from the chief priests and Pharisees, comes thither with lanterns, and lamps, and weapons. Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that were coming on Him, went out and said to them, Whom do you seek? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus says to them, 'I am'.

And Judas also, who betrayed Him, stood with them. When therefore He had said to them, I am, they went away backward, and fell on the ground. Again, therefore, He asked them, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I told you that I am; if then you seek Me, let these go away, that the word which He said might be fulfilled, Of those whom Thou gavest Me I have lost none. John 18:3-9

These "I am" statements by Jesus are not the seven "I am" statements that are often listed; those are also very interesting, but on a different track. The ones listed above are places where Jesus is declaring that He is God, that he is "I AM".

This is hugely important. Isaiah prophesied that the Christ child would be God Himself, in human form:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6.

Jesus is saying the same thing. Internally, he is "I am". As he gradually puts off or purifies his more external human elements, the internal shines through more and more.

The Bible

 

Exodus 3:14

Study the Inner Meaning

              

14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Exodus 3      

By Emanuel Swedenborg

Arcana Coelestia 6825. In the first chapter, in the internal sense, the subject treated of was the infestation by falsities and evils of those who are of the church; in the second chapter it was the beginnings and successive states of truth Divine with them; in this chapter in the internal sense the subject treated of is their liberation; and then for the first time they are instructed who the God is who has liberated them, that it is the Lord; and that He introduces them into heaven after they have been endowed with manifold truth and good.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 6873, 6879, 6880, 6881, 6882


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 1343, 1925, 4289, 7988, 10566, 10579

True Christian Religion 19


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 49

Marriage 19

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 6:3, 15:3

Isaiah 42:8

Revelation 1:4

Bible Word Meanings

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

moses
Moses's name appears 814 times in the Bible (KJV), third-most of any one character (Jesus at 961 actually trails David at 991). He himself wrote...

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

israel
Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

sent
'To send' signifies revealing.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Approaching the Lord
Throughout virtually every culture, in every era of history, people have related to a Divine presence. We desire to draw near to the source of our life, the cause of our existence. Yet there is the question of who or what we are meant to approach?
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Burning Bush
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Compare: Moses and Joshua
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Compare: Moses and Samuel
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Correspondences of Fire
Illustration of three stories in the Word that relate to fire. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Curiosity
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 I Am: The Lord’s Divine Presence with Us
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Moses and the Burning Bush
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Moses and the Burning Bush
The Lord protected Moses and prepared him to do a very important job. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Introductory Level, for ages 5-6.
Religion Lesson | Ages 5 - 6

 Moses and the Burning Bush
Project | Ages up to 6

 Moses and the Burning Bush
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Moses and the Burning Bush (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 Moses at the Burning Bush
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Names of the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Overview of Lead and Guide Us Levels A B C for Ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program "Lead and Guide Us", Levels A, B and C, for ages 3-14. Suitable for Sunday schools, camps, classrooms and families.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Picture the Burning Bush with Watercolor Pencils
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Quotes: Hearing the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Angel and the Bush
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Burning Bush
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Burning Bush
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Burning Bush
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Burning Bush
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Burning Bush
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Burning Bush
As we approach adult life, the things we are learning from the Word take on new meaning.
Worship Talk | Ages 15 - 17

 The Burning Bush with Tissue Paper
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord's Names
The Lord's names reveal aspects of His qualities. We can be linked to Him through baptism in His name.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Miracle of the Burning Bush
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Oneness of God
Lesson and activities looking at the oneness of God and the way his many names help us reflect on what He does for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Why the Lord Has Different Names
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Why Two Sexes?
Article | Ages 15 - 17


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