“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1).
Before anything and everything existed, God existed: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before heaven and earth, angels and humans, cattle and all other creatures great and small on earth, in the sea or in the air, God existed. In short, God was, is, and always will be. He is eternal. He is self-existent.
The self-existence of God is documented in the praises of God’s people. The self-existence of God is also documented in His most personal name: Yahweh! In English translations, the Hebrew name Yahweh is identified by the English rendering LORD.
The name Yahweh is the most personal name for God. The name focuses on the self-existence and faithfulness of God. When Moses asked God in Exodus 3:13-14 Who it was that was sending him to Egypt, in case someone asked, God replied, “I AM WHO I AM. And He said, ‘Say to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you’.”
This self-identification or self-existence by God is also important when we read the words of Jesus in John 8. In His adversarial discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus makes this climatic statement in John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” The Pharisees response is striking. “So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59). Why would the Pharisees want to stone Jesus? The reason must be is that they knew He was calling Himself Yahweh by using the phrase “I AM.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “This is a clear reference to Jesus’ eternal preexistence. Since this is an attribute of God alone, this text is a forceful statement of Jesus’ deity. The present tense of the verb suggest the eternal present of God’s eternity. “I am” is also reminiscent of God’s name in Exodus 3:14.”
The name Yahweh shows us that God’s character is unchangeable. He is what He is and He never changes. God does not become anything more, or less, than what He is because He is always complete in all that He has ever been and ever will be.
Dr. Sproul continues by explaining, “That Yahweh means “I Am” tells us several important things about God’s identity. First, it shows that the Lord’s character is unchangeable. We can say of ourselves, “I was x last year, but now I am y, and next week I could be z,” but not our Creator. Yesterday He says, “I Am,” today He says, “I Am,” and tomorrow He says, “I Am.” He cannot learn any new information or become more holy. None of God’s perfections can be subtracted or added to. He can never be anything other than what He is today. There is absolutely no shadow of change for our Creator (James 1:17). Importantly, Jesus speaks of Himself in similar terms (the “I Am” sayings of John; see 8:58, for example), which reveals that He is one with the Father and worthy of worship and praise.”
Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “A vital difference between God’s essence and our own is also revealed in the name Yahweh. Human beings and the Lord both possess the attribute of “being-ness” — we both exist. Yet our being is derivative, as we have not always existed. On the other hand, God is self-existent: He has always been and can never cease to be (Psalm 90:2).
Every one of us is changing: either for the better or for the worse. We change our minds, our clothes, our cars, our allegiances to sports teams, while making and breaking promises. God is different. He is faithfully the same, all the time.
Soli deo Gloria!