January 12 – Immutable


Passage Intro

In our pursuit of God’s incommunicable attributes we’re diving into a number of big stories in the Bible. This week we’ll pick up right at the beginning of the Exodus, when God had heard the cries of his people in slavery and was in the process of freeing them. In our text, Exodus 6:2-8, God had already called Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let his people go. Moses gave that a shot in 5:1, but Pharaoh immediately shot him down and increased the burdens on the Israelites to boot. By chapter 6 we’re getting the first hints of the difficulty by which Israel will escape Egypt and the work of salvation that God will be doing in and through them.

But at this point in Israel’s history they weren’t super familiar with the God of their Fathers, either having accepted Egyptian polytheism or just having practiced the religion of their ancestors. In a way, God introduces himself to his people through the Exodus, first to Moses in Midian and then to everyone else through Moses’ leadership.(3:15) We see here in chapter 6 that God calls to mind his interactions with their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who knew him as God Almighty or, in Hebrew, “El Shaddai,” adding, “but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.”(6:3) That, plus God’s repetition of “I am the LORD” bookending this passage, should clue us in that God is trying to say something specific here.

Series Intro:

None Like Him

When we see LORD in all-caps in our English Bibles it should grab our attention. This is God’s personal name, revealed to Israel right here in the Exodus story. In our discussion this week we’ll actually look back at God’s first use of this personal name in Exodus 3 because it’s so vital to understanding our passage. There Moses flat out asks God, “When Israel asks me who it is that sent me, what name should I give them?” To this God answers somewhat enigmatically, “I AM who I AM,” continuing, “Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”(Ex.3:14) When asked for a name, God simply gives an answer fitting to his transcendent, eternal, immutable self; simply I AM. For a bit more on how we get “LORD” from the name “Yahweh,” check out the video from the Bible Project above.
When God’s people were oppressed in Egypt he decided to reveal himself in a new way, not just as God Almighty but as I AM, the always faithful, never changing God. In Exodus 6 he recalls his promises to Israel’s forefathers and makes new promises to deliver his people from captivity. All of this has to do with future realities that were, in Israel’s viewpoint, impossible. After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, they couldn’t see any possibility of freedom. Exodus 6:9 describes their dismay, “They did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.” God gave them a name to reassure them of his steadfastness when they desperately needed that reassurance. They needed to hear that when he promises something he doesn’t falter, he doesn’t fail, and he doesn’t change his mind. We changeable creatures, tossed around by the trends of the world around us and our own internal vacillations, need the same reassurance. We need a rock that is higher than us.(Ps. 61:2) This Rock doesn’t just provide a secure place in an insecure world, though he most certainly does that. Such a Rock is the only always faithful, never failing source of salvation to which we can cling.

Questions for Discussion

• Can someone read Exodus 6:2-8 for us?

• Would someone like to summarize for us what has happened in Exodus up until chapter 6? (check out 1:13, 2:10, 3:7, and 5:2 for the highlights)

• What do you think it was like for the Israelites to hear this message in 6:2-8?

• Why do you think God keeps on saying, “I am the LORD” here?

• Let’s turn to Exodus 3:13-15. Could someone read that for us?

• What do you think about God calling himself, “I AM”?

• On Sunday we talked about how God is immutable or unchanging. How can his unchangeable nature be comforting to us?

• How might God’s unchanging nature influence the way we relate to him as changeable creatures?