Why Does "I Will Be" Make People Nervous?
"I Will Be" vs. "I Am"
Hopefully we have established, and the reader is satisfied, that the linguistic fact is that God's Name as revealed in Ex 3:14, , Ahyh, is correctly translated as "I Will Be." The Burning Bush's full answer to Moses, then, is "I Will Be What I Will Be."
Yet, almost universally, the English speaking world translates this as "I Am What I Am." Why?
Well, despite the linguistic evidence, people are simply uncomfortable with the notion of God "Becoming."
First there's the issue of other Bible passages:
Humans may be fickle and changing, but God is the constant, unmoved mover.
Then, there's the strange notion of just what, exactly, "I Will Be What I Will Be" means coming out of God's mouth. Unable to deal with this complex mystery, it has been so much more convenient to simply use "I Am", though even here almost all commentators have failed. For most, God's answer "I Am What I Am" is the equivalent of "My Name is none of your business. You won't be able to get a handle on Me, Moses." Yet, this is opposed to the whole essence of the passage, where YHWH is trying to inform Moses about His Name, and what to use before the people.
"I AM" does, indeed, say volumes about God! That is why I wrote "God Is Not God's Name" from the "I Am" perspective. There is soooo much ignorance around about God's Name that I thought it best to introduce the student to the ideas in that text.
Yet, this does not change the fact: God's Name means "I Will Be." What can we make of this?
I will give you my 2 best answers.
1) "A rose is a rose is a rose." A rosebush is always and only a rosebush, never a cactus or mountain lion. In that respect it it always the same. Yet, this sameness is not that of a rock; the rose grows, blooms, wilts in the sun, and sprouts little rose bushes. It is ALIVE, and therefore ever growing & changing.......Yet forever unchanged because it is always and only a rose!
This seems a perfectly natural expression, and applies to God. Yes, God is always God. Yet, God is ALIVE!
2) The second notion is quite a bit more foreign to most people's normal way of thinking, and I actually spend quite a bit of time dealing with it in The Church of Yahweh. The idea is simple, yet tends to make people very nervous, but here we go....
The ancient notion that "God is the Potter, we are the clay" begs to have one question answered: Where did God get the clay from? The totality of the evidence, from nature, science and the Scriptures, is that God made the clay out of Himself!
The best illustration I can give is that of human imagination. As we think of something, say a green horse, we are focusing our imagination, through our brain cells, into the shape of a green horse. We are the same.....still human, still sitting in our room, and yet, a tiny part of us is now shaped into a green horse image.
The Scripture is clear that God said.....and there was. The universe is made out of His Will, just as we will our minds to imagine a green horse. In that way, then, God wills Himself to be whatever He wants.......The result is the stars, the sun, the moon, earth, rivers, you and me.
As "cosmic" or far-out as that might seem, it is also the best explanation as to what the Scripture means when it says (Acts 17:28) that "In God we live, move, and exist"(!)
One last thing, which I think best to deal with in this context. I get a fair amount of email saying, in essence,
My answer is that they are both related. At any given point in time, "I Am" is the truth. Yet, for the "Big Picture", the whole story is embodied within "I Will Be."
The simplest illustration I can give is a rock falling from the sky, say 1000 feet. It is very easy for us to graph the fall of the rock, comparing how far it has fallen to any given time. After 1 second in has fallen 16 feet, after 2 seconds it has fallen 48 feet, etc.
Once we have that graph (or, more interestingly, a formula describing the rock's fall) we can perform 2 mathematical functions:
1) We can tell, at any given time, how fast the rock is falling. This is the Derivative of the formula. This is equivalent to the "I Am", a snapshot at any given point in time.
2) We can also tell, for any given time, how far the rock has fallen, from the beginning to now. This is the Integral of the formula, equivalent to the "I Will Be", telling the whole story.
(You will find a bit more on this type of discussion in A Calculus of God.)
It is not so much that one is "right" while the other is "wrong"; they both have something to say. It is, however, true that "I Will Be" gives us the broader perspective & larger picture.
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