As God was giving Moses charge to lead Israel out of Egypt, He began to reveal more about Himself and His purpose for mankind. Before God began to reveal His purpose, He first began to reveal who He was:
God [Hebrew -"Elohim"-uniplural word for God] spoke to Moses, and said to him, "I am the ETERNAL ONE [Hebrew -"Yahweh" means the self-existing one and is often translated as LORD or JEHOVAH], I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God Almighty [Hebrew -"El Shaddai"], but by my name the ETERNAL ONE [Yahweh - the self-existing one] was I not known to them." (Exodus 6:2-3) All the names for God are important; they reveal much about God and His purpose for mankind. All of these will be explained, but it is important to note here that God progressively reveals Himself as He progressively reveals His will to mankind. Abraham knew God as "El Shaddai," which means God Almighty, because this is how God revealed Himself. To Moses and all the children of Israel, God added that He was "Yahweh"—the ETERNAL ONE. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not know God as "Yahweh." God explained more to Moses:
I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be God [Elohim] to you, and you shall know that I am the ETERNAL ONE [Yahweh] your God [Elohim], who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land concerning which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you for an inheritance [possession], I am the ETERNAL ONE [Yahweh], (Exodus 6:7-8) The Eternal God was making it clear to Moses that He was going to take the people of Israel to Himself and be God to them. He was not going to be God to the rest of mankind, in the sense that He would work with them in a special way to accomplish His future plans. Certainly He was God of all mankind, but God was not working out His plan (at that time) in the rest of mankind. Instead, all the rest of the world would be allowed to continue on their own path, choosing their own governments and religions—choosing their own ways.
Although God chose to work with Israel as a nation, in order to fulfill His plan for mankind, Israel did not accept the rule of God and His ways of life. Some have been jealous of what God says about Israel because they have not understood why God worked with them as He did. Other peoples of the world have misunderstood much of what was being worked out through Israel, in order for the rest of mankind to learn from it. Much of the lesson of Israel is not a good one. God gave them His laws, but they rejected those laws and rejected God by doing so. Israel proved that even when given every advantage, intervention and favor in life from Almighty God, man still rejects God.
God Almighty (El Shaddai) was now beginning to fulfill some of those things He had promised to Abraham hundreds of years earlier concerning his descendents through Isaac and Jacob. Earlier, God had revealed other information concerning Himself: Moses said to God [Elohim], "Behold, when I go to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God [Elohim] of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they shall say to me, 'What is his name?' What shall I say to them?" God [Elohim] said to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM. " Then He said, "This is what you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you. '"Moreover God [Elohim] said to Moses, "This is what you shall say to the children of Israel, 'The ETERNAL ONE [Yahweh], the God [Elohim] of your fathers, the God [Elohim] of Abraham, the God [Elohim] of Isaac, and the God [Elohim] of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name for ever, and this is My remembrance to all generations. " (Exodus 3:13-15)
The translation into English of the first thing that God told Moses to tell the Israelites is rather awkward. The translation of "I AM THAT I AM" does not really capture the greater intent of what God said. In English, it is better understood as, "HE EXISTS WHO EXISTS" or "HE IS WHO IS" has sent me to you.
Then God instructs Moses to say to the Israelites that the ETERNAL ONE (Yahweh), who is the God of their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), has sent him to them. Furthermore, God made it clear that His name, ETERNAL ONE (Yahweh), was to be remembered for all generations. Another way of saying it is that God is to be known to (remembered by) all generations as the ETERNAL ONE (Yahweh).
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